The United States has designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a "foreign terrorist organization", a move that China said would further escalate tensions in the Middle East.
In announcing the designation on Monday, US President Donald Trump said it "recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the ... (Revolutionary Guard) actively participates in, finances and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft".
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing on Tuesday that China opposes any countries' resorting to power politics or bullying when dealing with international relations.
Lu said at the regular press briefing that China has always believed countries should uphold the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.
He said he hoped that major countries outside the Middle East act in favor of peace and stability of the region and avoid actions that will further escalate tensions.
This is the first time that the US has labeled a branch of a foreign country's military as a terror group, Trump said in a statement issued by the White House.
Niu Song, a researcher at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, described the move as a "surgical strike" by the US, reflecting its increasing pressure on Iran.
He said the decision is a continuation of what he characterized as Trump's policy of strong suppression of Iran, with the purpose of further curbing Iran politically and economically.
Iran immediately condemned the Trump administration's decision as "a dangerous US misadventure in the region" and labeled US Central Command forces in West Asia as "a terrorist group", according to Xinhua.
Iran's Supreme National Security Council considers the US government a "sponsor of terrorism" and sees the US Central Command and its affiliated forces in West Asia as a "terrorist group", according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
The council, according to the news agency, described the US measure as baseless and a major threat to international and regional peace and security, considering it a violation of international law and the UN Charter.
Trump said in Monday's statement that the new designation "will significantly expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian regime. It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the ... (Revolutionary Guard)."
Founded after the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, the paramilitary group, estimated to have 125,000 members, defines its role as protecting the Islamic system.
The Revolutionary Guard answers solely to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The designation came ahead of voting in Israel on Tuesday that will decide whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu serves another term.
"From the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, to the relocation of the US embassy, to the recognition of the Golan Heights as Israel's territory, and this decision (the Revolutionary Guard designation), these all serve the same purpose — for Netanyahu's re-election," Niu said.
Dong Mangyuan, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said another Trump goal is to prepare for removal of Iranian forces from Syria.
"Now, fighting terrorism becomes another reason for the US to strike against Iranian power within Syria, in addition to safeguarding Israel's border security," he said.
However, Dong said, Iran will not take the initiative against US military stationed in the Middle East, since Teheran is still defending the Iran nuclear agreement, which he said is Iran's top priority.
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