September 17, 2019 / 8:30 AM / a month ago

China condemns attacks on Saudi oil facilities

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Tuesday condemned an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, in a toughening of its language from the previous day, but again without saying who it believed was behind it.

FILE PHOTO: Hua Chunying, spokeswoman of China's Foreign Ministry, speaks at a regular news conference in Beijing, China, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday it looked like Iran was behind attacks on oil plants operated by Saudi Aramco on Saturday but stressed he did not want to go to war, as the attacks sent oil prices soaring and raised fears of a new Middle East conflict.

Iran has rejected the U.S. accusations it was behind the strikes that damaged the world’s biggest crude-processing plant and triggered the largest jump in crude prices in decades.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying offered different wording from Monday, when she said it was irresponsible to blame anyone for the attack without conclusive facts.

“China condemns this attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities and opposes any attacks on civilians or civilian facilities,” she told a daily news briefing.

However, Hua also reiterated her Monday call for the “relevant parties to avoid taking actions that bring about an escalation in regional tensions”.

She did not elaborate.

Despite being a relatively low-profile diplomatic player in the Middle East, China has close economic and energy relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran and has long had to tread carefully in its ties with both.

Saudi Arabia is China’s top oil supplier, year to date.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman visited Beijing in 2017, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to China this year.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met the Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, in Beijing late last month.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel

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