By Ebrahim Fallahi

Lion-dragon alliance: a serious threat to U.S. influence in region

April 13, 2021 - 12:19

TEHRAN – The signing of a 25-year cooperation document between Iran and China has become the subject of debate by many political and economic experts and scholars and even ordinary people all over Iran.

The agreement, dubbed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, covers cooperation in a variety of areas including politics, economic, security, defense, culture, agriculture, science, oil and energy, infrastructure, ICT, and health.

The main issue that has caused controversies over this agreement is whether it is aimed at colonizing the Iranian economy by the Chinese or it is truly an opportunity for equal prosperity for both sides.

To answer this question, several points must be taken into consideration, like how this agreement is going to affect the Iranian economy in the future? what is in it for the two sides? What are the agreement’s consequences for Iran’s political and economic rivals? What does this partnership entail regarding the Iran-U.S. relations?

Iran and China

China is Iran’s leading trade partner and was one of the top customers of Iranian oil before the U.S. reimposed unilateral sanctions in 2018 when President Donald Trump abandoned a multilateral nuclear agreement with Tehran.

Even after the re-imposition of the U.S. sanctions, China has taken serious measures for challenging Washington’s hostile policies towards Iran and has tried to maintain its economic relations with the Islamic Republic as much as possible. The Asian country has often spoken out against U.S. sanctions on Iran and contested them.

Signing the partnership agreement with Iran is yet another big step taken by the Asian powerhouse in undermining Washington’s policies in the region.

“Our relations with Iran will not be affected by the current situation, but will be permanent and strategic,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said ahead of the signing ceremony.

“Relations between the two countries have now reached the level of strategic partnership and China seeks to comprehensively improve relations with Iran,” Wang said.

The accord also brings Iran into China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure scheme intended to stretch from East Asia to Europe.

Iran and the U.S.

When assessing the Iran-China comprehensive partnership agreement, the first and foremost issue to be considered is that this agreement has seriously undermined U.S. leverage over Iran in the nuclear negotiations and has lessened American influence in the region.

The U.S. has been trying to isolate Iran by imposing unprecedented sanctions on various sectors of the country’s economy in the hope to bring Tehran to bend to Washington's wishes.

Iran, however, has been strongly withstanding the pressures and following new strategies for promoting a resilient economy, has embarked on a journey for developing domestic production and reducing reliance on oil.

Reaching this long-term partnership with China has further cemented the Islamic Republic’s position against the U.S. in the region, opening a new window for the country to further gear up for battling the U.S.’s unilateralism and totalism.

China-U.S. relations

Another important issue that is needed to be considered with regard to the Iran-China partnership is the extent of trade between the United States and China and the impact of Washington's sanctions on this cooperation.

According to official reports, the trade between the U.S. and China reaches more than $700 billion a year, most of which is accounted for by the Chinese exports.

So, China might act cautiously when it comes to the implementation of the agreement in the future in order to guard its interests in the American market.

In such an atmosphere, Iran must try to create a condition for maximizing the benefits of the mentioned partnership by providing the necessary bases for the attraction of investment by all the country’s foreign trade partners including the Chinese.

Final thoughts

All being said, the one certain thing about the partnership between Iran and China is that it can be currently considered as great leverage for Iran to use against Washington’s hostile policies.

This agreement is just a roadmap for future cooperation and the real benefits or drawbacks of this partnership will be cleared when new deals are signed under its framework in the long run. 

So, all we can say is that it is too early to judge its merits or disadvantages, and we cannot see how it will turn out until it is implemented.


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