A top Chinese diplomat said Tuesday war over the Iranian nuclear issue would bring disaster to the world economy and urged all nations involved to exercise restraint and prevent hostilities.
The remarks by Chen Xiaodong, a top Chinese diplomat on Middle Eastern affairs, came as Iran's showdown with the West slid closer to confrontation as alarm over its new uranium enrichment plant and Tehran's death sentence for a "CIA spy" raised the stakes.
"We urge all relevant nations to remain calm, exercise restraint, refrain from taking actions that will intensify the situation and make common efforts to prevent war," Chen said in an online interview with state media.
"Everyone knows that 40 per cent of the oil shipped daily to every part of the world goes through the Strait of Hormuz, so once war starts in this region not only will the relevant nations be affected and attacked, it would also ... bring disaster to a world economy deep in crisis."
The International Atomic Energy Agency's confirmation on Monday that Iran had begun enriching uranium in a new, underground bunker southwest of Tehran was seized upon by the United States, Britain, France and Germany as an unacceptable "violation" of UN Security Council resolutions.
On Monday, a Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced an American former Marine, Amir Mirzai Hekmati, to death after convicting him of being a CIA spy.
The United States has called for the release of Hekmati, 28, who also holds Iranian nationality through his family who settled in the United States before his birth.
Chen's statement comes as US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner arrived in Beijing for talks expected to be focused on a new set of sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran late last year.
Energy-hungry China -- which relies on Iran for 11 per cent of its imported oil supplies -- has repeatedly said sanctions will not resolve the nuclear issue and urged all sides to seek a diplomatic solution through dialogue.