Recent reports of a possible US$400 billion Iran-China trade deal took Washington by surprise, prompting US Secretary of State Pompeo to threaten China with comprehensive economic sanctions.

If the deal is signed, Pompeo said, “We will be sure to enforce all the provisions we have – all the sanctions we have on the Islamic Republic of Iran – applied to the Chinese Communist Party and their businesses and state-owned enterprises as well.”

That would seem to imply a complete shutdown of economic relations between the US and China, which is unlikely because China’s exports to the US comprise about a quarter of its manufacturing GDP.