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Middle East crisis

China says it opposes any Israel-Iran escalation amid balancing act

Murky reports of Israeli strike underscore Beijing's economic stakes, dicey diplomacy

The flags of China and Iran fly in Tiananmen Square during a visit by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in February 2023. China refrained from criticizing Iran's recent drone and missile attack on Israel.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Soaring tensions between Iran and Israel are putting China in a tight spot, as excessive instability or all-out war could threaten interests it has cultivated in both countries.

Friday brought conflicting reports of a possible Israeli strike in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, with Israeli leaders having vowed to respond to Tehran's first direct attack last weekend. The Iranian barrage of drones and missiles had come in response to a suspected Israeli hit on its embassy in Syria that killed several military officials -- part of a long-running shadow war between the countries.

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