In recent times, the Houthi attacks in support of Palestinians in Gaza have not only disrupted a vital trade route but also escalated tensions between China, Iran, and the rest of the world. As the Red Sea becomes a focal point for geopolitical maneuvering, the dynamics of the China-Iran relationship are thrust into the spotlight.Chinas Dominance in TradeThe trade relationship between China and Iran has been robust but uneven. Chinese oil refiners purchased over 90% of Irans crude exports last year, taking advantage of US sanctions that deterred other buyers. However, Irans oil constitutes only 10% of Chinas crude imports, giving Beijing room to diversify its sources.Chinese Concerns and Tehrans AlliancesChina, being Irans largest trading partner, has expressed its disappointment with the Houthi attacks. However, Irans intricate web of regional alliances, including proxies in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen, plays a pivotal role in Tehrans decision-making process.US Involvement and Chinese LeverageEfforts by the US and British forces to curb Houthi attacks have been futile, leading to Washington seeking Chinese intervention. While China has potential leverage over Iran due to oil purchases and investment possibilities, it has been reluctant to employ it for various reasons.Tehrans Dilemma and Chinas PrioritiesIrans rulers find themselves at a crossroads. While China holds significant influence, Tehrans decisions are shaped by a complex interplay of factors, including regional alliances, ideological considerations, and economic necessities. China, as the worlds biggest trading nation, prioritizes stability in the Red Sea but refrains from publicly blaming the Houthis.Stakes for Iran and Chinas InfluenceThe stakes are high for Iran as it relies on China for crucial investments in its oil sector. However, criticisms within Iran question the true value of the partnership, highlighting the need for a nuanced strategy considering Chinas influence and other geopolitical considerations.