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Opinion: How did China get double-digit economic growth?

By dealing with some of the world's most repugnant regimes. Iran is just the latest on a long, long list.

A few days earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said: “Our consistent proposal has been to resolve the Iran nuclear issue appropriately through dialogue and consultation,” not sanctions. China certainly has been consistent.

In September 2005, soon after Iran admitted it was stepping up its refinement of nuclear fuel and abandoning a two-year freeze, the Security Council began the first talk of sanctions. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said, “Our position has always been that diplomacy should be the basis” for negotiations, adding that “the Chinese side is working to promote peaceful negotiations and dialogue.” A few months earlier, China agreed to buy 250 million tons of liquefied national gas from Iran over the following 25 years.

In January 2006, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said China “hopes that all parties concerned can exercise restraint and resolve through peaceful negotiations.” The next month, Iran announced that it was signing a major oil-export deal with Beijing.

In 2007, when the Security Council began working on a new sanctions resolution, China’s U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, warned: “To talk about more sanctions, we have to be careful. Especially for China, we made it clear from the beginning that sanctions should not hurt the Iranian people's daily lives.”

Early the following year, when Iran's oil ministry said it would sign a contract with China’s National Offshore Oil Corp to develop the North Pars gas field, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said: “Relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and actions should be conducive to the resolution” of the nuclear issue “through dialogue and negotiation.”

Now, the Obama administration has given Iran a full year to take up Washington’s offer of “dialogue and negotiation.” and five years has passed since China first proffered its negotiations trope. Iran has consistently refused and instead has grown more pugnacious and dangerous.

Now, China buys 15 percent of its oil from Iran, and when President Barack Obama visited Beijing in November and asked President Hu Jintao about Iran, Hu told him that the way to “appropriately resolve” the issue was through “dialogue and negotiations.”