China State Media Slams Iran Scientist Killing As U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Beijing's Firms

Chinese state media has criticized the killing of Iran's top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, as the U.S. imposes new sanctions against Beijing companies that trade with the Islamic republic.

Fakhrizadeh was assassinated near the Iranian capital of Tehran on Friday, according to the country's defense ministry. Western intelligence agencies believe he was a leading figure in Iran's nuclear weapon drive.

Global Times, a Chinese state-run daily tabloid that is seen as part of the PRC's broader propaganda efforts, published a brief editorial on Saturday asking if Fakhrizadeh's killing had opened a "Pandora's box".

"Western countries have remained silent about this barbaric and shameless act," wrote Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin.

"Imagine if a leading scientist from the U.S. or the U.K. was assassinated, what kind of tsunami of public condemnation would that cause?"

"Strength is the lifeline that safeguards national security and dignity," Hu continued.

"Now that the U.S. regards China as its opponent, who knows what kind of rogue method it will use to gather allies against China? It's unlikely that when Joe Biden assumes office he will reverse the general trend of increasing tension between China and the U.S."

The editorial comes in the same week as the U.S. announced new sanctions against five firms in China and Russia that the Trump administration claims are helping to promote Iran's missile program.

Eliot Abrams, the State Department's special representative for Iran, said on Wednesday that the Treasury planned more measures in the near term relating to arms, human rights violations and weapons of mass destruction.

"Our policy will be the same through January 20," Abrams told an event at the Beirut Institute.

Two of the five newly sanctioned firms are based in China—Chengdu Best New Materials Co. Ltd. and Zibo Elim Trade Company Ltd—while the other three are based in Russia. The Russian companies are Nilco Group, Elecon and Aviazapchast.

Iran has promised retribution for the death of Fakhrizadeh. Its foreign minister, Javad Zarif, strongly suggested in a tweet on Friday that Israeli was involved in the killing.

"Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today," Zarif wrote. "This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators."

The Global Times also pointed on Saturday to the U.S. strike earlier this year that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. The country has also pledged vengeance for his death.

"Will the world return to the era of using terrorism to realize major national interests? Such regression is despicable and no one will come out as a winner," the newspaper said.

Iranian Students Burn Photos Trump and Biden
Students of Iran's Basij paramilitary force burn posters depicting US President Donald Trump (top) and President-elect Joe Biden, during a rally in front of the foreign ministry in Tehran, on November 28, 2020, to protest the killing of prominent nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh a day earlier near the capital. Chinese state media has criticized the killing. ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images