Iran-China cooperation raises concern in the West

April 2, 2021 - 21:9

TEHRAN – Over history, Iran and China have always enjoyed good relations but their recent cooperation deal will upgrade their ties to a strategic level, something that the West never wanted to see.

History took a new turn on March 27 when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi signed a document on a long-term cooperation plan that would boost Tehran-Beijing relations in various fields to a new, strategic level.

The plan, officially known as the “Comprehensive Cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People's Republic of China,” manifested a strategic decision by Iran.

“The document focuses on the capacities and perspectives for bilateral cooperation between the two countries in various areas including economic and cultural fields, among others. We believe this document will further contribute to the continued development and comprehensive partnership of Iran and China, and will bring about prosperity for the two nations,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the signing of the document.

The China-Iran cooperation plan was warmly welcomed by all Iranian officials across the political spectrum, something that set a new precedent for how all Iranian political factions can join forces to support a major foreign policy decision even during an election season, which is usually characterized by bitter infighting among various political factions. 

This consensus reflected a deep understanding of the importance of upgrading relations with China, a move that Zarif described as a “strategic choice” made by Iran.

“Iran attaches great importance to its relations with China, and strengthening cooperation with China is a strategic choice made by Iran,” the Iranian foreign minister was quoted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry as saying during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart.

Underlining that the signing of the roadmap of Iran-China comprehensive cooperation will further reinforce relations between the two countries, Zarif referred to China as the “friend of hard times”, according to a statement issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

“Accordingly, we praise the stances and measures of China at the time of cruel sanctions against Iran,” the chief Iranian diplomat said. 

Facing Iran-China's growing cooperation, the U.S. expressed concern over the signing of the 25-year plan. Asked if he was concerned about the emerging partnership between Iran and China, U.S. President Joe Biden said a few hours after the plan was signed that he has been “concerned about that for a year.”

Iran said Biden’s concern was right. 

Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, responded to the U.S. president’s remarks by saying that that enhancing cooperation with the East will hasten the U.S. decline. 

“The signing of Iran and China Strategic Partnership Roadmap is part of the Active Resistance policy. The world isn’t just the West and the West isn’t just the lawbreaking America, UK, France and Germany. Biden’s concern is correct: the flourishing of strategic cooperation in the East is accelerating the U.S. decline,” Shamkhani tweeted on March 29.

Active resistance is a policy that Iran adopted in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, formally called the JCPOA. It helped Iran resist U.S. bullying and cement its ties with other countries, including China. Now, with the so-called “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran in tatters, the U.S. hopes that Iran will relinquish this policy and accept a U.S. return to the nuclear deal without the lifting of U.S. sanctions, something that Iran keeps rejecting. 

In addition, the U.S. sought to downplay the impact of the Iran-China cooperation plan on Washington-Beijing ties. Commenting on the Iran-China partnership plan, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price claimed that the U.S. and China have a shared interest in curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

However, Iran and China have expressed interest in working on reviving the JCPOA. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, during Zarif’s meeting with Wang, Iran expressed interest in working with China to revive the JCPOA.



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