25-year deal follows five years of negotiations . . .
China and Iran signed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership over the weekend during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s six-country tour of the Middle East. The signing of the 25-year co-operation agreement follows five years of negotiations and 50 years of official diplomatic relations. While the agreement's content has not been officially disclosed, it reportedly covers bilateral co-operation on economic, political, and security fronts.
A closer look at what (might) be in the pact . . .
The deal is believed to include a total of US$400 billion in Chinese investment in Iran’s infrastructure, telecommunications, banking, and information technology sectors in the coming decades and represents a significant step forward in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In return for its help in building Iran’s ports and railways, China will reportedly receive a regular oil supply at a discounted price, assuring it much-needed access to energy resources. Besides trade and investment, the deal will also deepen bilateral defence co-operation through joint training and military research and development. Chinese media, meanwhile, are playing up the claimed use of the Chinese Yuan as the clearing currency in future purchases of Iranian crude, touting it as a major milestone in the process of “de-dollarization in global trade” and “acceleration of renminbi internationalization.”
Important signal sent, but still a long way to go . . .
This partnership will likely give Iran more diplomatic leverage versus the U.S. regarding the long-standing economic sanctions and unresolved dispute around its nuclear program. Many observers also believe that the deal sends an important message in China’s ambition to expand its influence amid the changing geopolitical dynamics in the Middle East, as it voices support for Iran’s “safeguarding (of) its state sovereignty and national dignity” against pressure from the U.S. The long timespan of this agreement, in addition to the challenges in balancing relations with other regional players, could add uncertainties to how far commitments on paper can be taken into reality in the years to come.
- Arab News: Iran-China accord ushers in major geopolitical shift
- China Times: 伊朗、俄罗斯、阿联酋……陆续使用人民币结算，这意味着什么？
- The New York Times: China, with $400 billion Iran deal, could deepen influence in Mideast