0232 GMT June 19, 2021
One being the world’s second largest economy in terms of GDP and the other the holder of the fourth and second largest proven oil and gas reserves, respectively; one willing to make hefty investments, and the other offering numerous investment opportunities, both subject to US sanctions, in an imposed economic war with Washington and ailing from unilateralism; China and Iran would make such perfect partners and complement each other ideally.
Tehran and Beijing are pieces of a political and economic jigsaw puzzle that, once put together, will greatly favor themselves, the entire world and global multilateralism. Being two important cogwheels of the global economy, in case they are linked by a chain, they will help the main engine work more efficiently, thus, creating a win-win situation for all.
Two main trade partners — China being the biggest exporter of goods to Iran — with their official diplomatic relations dating back to 1937 and both backing each other on the international scene, the ground has, since a long time ago, been prepared for a more comprehensive cooperation and a long-term strategic partnership between Tehran and Beijing. If there are so many benefits, one would ask, why haven’t they formed such a partnership yet?
The answer, however, is that they have already signed a deal to this end. Iran and China signed a 25-year cooperation agreement in late March to strengthen their longstanding economic and political alliance, a deal first discussed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Tehran in 2016, when he met with Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
The agreement includes Chinese investments in Iran’s energy and infrastructure sectors in return for steady supplies of Iranian oil, according to Press TV.
China is the world’s second largest economy in terms of nominal GDP ($14.86 trillion in 2020), according to globalpeoservices.com, and has invested in many projects abroad with benefits for both China, the investor, and for not only the country in which China has invested, but regional states as well. This has been shown in terms of connectivity, accelerated development and facilitated exchanges, the likes of which are the development of Pakistan’s Gwadar Port and implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-trillion-dollar global infrastructure scheme intended to stretch from East Asia to Europe. Among other things, the accord between Iran and China brings the former into the BRI.
Iran, on the other hand, is an energy powerhouse sitting on the world’s fourth largest oil reserves (over 157 billion barrels — according to worldometers.info) and second largest gas reserves (32 trillion cubic meters — according to nsenergybusiness.com), which sounds like a perfect match for China and an ideal partner for its huge infrastructure projects, where sufficient energy resources play a significant role.
A target of unjust US unilateral sanctions since the victory of 1979 Islamic Revolution, which have discouraged foreign investments in the country, and offering ample investment opportunities, Iran is thirsty for foreign funds and an ideal destination for financers. The country guarantees a profitable return of capital thanks to the safety it provides foreign investors and its ability to ensure its security in the middle of a region hit by numerous crises.
During its short history, the US has constantly imposed its will and excessive economic and political demands on other countries while seeking to establish a new world order and promote unilateralism. Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, China and Iran are all examples of the states targeted by unjust US sanctions as they have refused to give in to Washington’s bullying behavior.
The US, under an executive order signed by former president Donald Trump, withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, has waged an economic war against China and sanctioned the country and its officials on several occasions. Such aggressive policies, backed by Washington’s international and regional allies, intimidate other countries, particularly those finding themselves rather alone on the international scene, forcing them into acquiescing to US demands, in addition to emboldening the White House to pursue similar strategies.
On the flip side, long-term strategic partnerships, such as the one between Iran and China, among other international and regional powers, deal heavy blows to US pressure campaigns, stiffen other states’ resolve to stand against Washington’s unilateral measures, and promote multilateralism, as they set examples for the rest of the world to follow suit.
This is why Washington strained every nerve to hamper the deal by launching a propaganda campaign and spreading misinformation about the agreement and posing obstacles.
In a multilateral world, relations are developed based on mutual respect and common interests and each state’s sovereignty is duly recognized.
Although it could have happened sooner, the signing of the Iran-China comprehensive cooperation agreement marks the beginning of a global move toward the promotion of multilateralism and the establishment of relations on a win-win basis, with dividends for more than the two countries involved. No doubt, there are other states that can be complementary and perfect matches for each other, whose cooperation would have far-reaching positive knock-on effects on the rest of the world.
* Farzam Vanaki is an Iran Daily staff writer.