I noted Friday that if an Israeli military attack on Iran led to a spiral of violence in the region, the biggest losers would arguably be in China. A reader sent me Andrew Jacobs’ June NYT article about an Israeli delegation to China that apparently made this point in February:
In February, a high-level Israeli delegation traveled to Beijing to present alleged evidence of Iran’s atomic ambitions. Then they unveiled the ostensible purpose of their visit: to explain in sobering detail the economic impact to China from an Israeli strike on Iran — an attack Israel has suggested is all but inevitable should the international community fail to stop Iran from assembling a nuclear weapon.
“The Chinese didn’t seem too surprised by the evidence we showed them, but they really sat up in their chairs when we described what a pre-emptive attack would do to the region and on oil supplies they have come to depend on,” said an Israeli official with knowledge of the meeting and who asked for anonymity so as not to upset his Chinese counterparts
This argument seems like a double-edged sword to me. If Chinese officials understand the devastating consequences Israeli air strikes could have for the global economy, they become more likely to support sanctions on Iran that might avoid strikes. But if American officials understand the devastating consequences Israeli air strikes could have for the global economy, they become more likely to restrain Israel.