"We oppose pressuring or international sanctions because these pressures and sanctions are not helpful," The New York Times quoted Foreign Affairs Vice Minister Zhai Jun as saying. "They have not solved any issues. We believe these problems should be solved by dialogue."
A senior official with the Obama administration who did not want to be named said the United States is pushing to form a broad coalition to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program.
"We are in the early stages of a broad global diplomatic effort to take advantage of this new legislation to significantly intensify the pressure on Iran," the official said. "We are telling them what's important to us, and they are listening."
As one of Iran's largest oil customers, China would be a valuable addition to the cadre of countries agreeing to some part of the sanctions against Iran. The new American law that Geithner explained to Chinese officials mandates a cessation of business with Iran's central bank, which is where oil payments to Iran are processed.
For non-compliance, the law puts countries at risk of having the United States close the door to foreign institutions seeking to do business with the U.S. financial system, the Times reported.
The law allows for countries that cut down oil imports from Iran "significantly" to continue with normal U.S. relations. China gets more than 10 percent of its oil from Iran and has other economic interests there.