BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Friday responded to a U.S. State Department decision to exempt China from sanctions over imports of Iranian oil, stressing the Asian country's opposition to sanctions imposed unilaterally.
"China is always against one country's unilateral sanctions on another country, according to its domestic law. It is even less acceptable for such unilateral sanctions to be imposed on a third country," said Hong Lei, speaking at a regular press conference.
Under America's National Defense Authorization Act signed by U.S. President Barack Obama late last year, the foreign financial institutions of governments who continue to purchase Iranian crude oil after June 28, will be denied access to the U.S. financial market.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday announced Washington's decision to exempt China and Singapore from the measures, citing their "significant" reduction in purchases from the Islamic republic.
Hong stressed that China imports crude oil from Iran through normal channels to meet the needs of its economic development.
"This does not violate any UN Security Council resolutions or undermine the interests of a third party or the international community," the spokesman said. "Thus, it is completely legitimate and justified."
According to the U.S. State Department, a total of 20 economies have been given U.S. waivers. China, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan will be able to continue to import Iranian oil.
But 10 European countries included among the 20 will nevertheless be barred from importing Iranian oil from July 1.