Mohammad Ali Saki

China, Iran are highly complementary: Chinese professor

April 26, 2021 - 12:31

TEHRAN - Professor Yongzhong Wang, a Chinese professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, tells the Tehran Times that the 25-year partnership between Iran and China is based on mutual benefit and it can contribute to peace and stability in West Asia. 

“The oil and gas sector will greatly benefit from the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement. China and Iran are highly complementary in the oil and gas sector,” Wang emphasizes. 

Iran possesses large oil and gas reserves. At the same time, China is the largest importer of oil and gas. However, the illegal U.S. sanctions on Iran have greatly affected Tehran’s oil sale. 

“Under the agreement, China will provide huge potential market for Iranian oil and gas. Also, the settlement in RMB between Iran and China can escape the constraints of SWIFT and U.S. sanctions,” says Professor Wang, who is director and senior fellow in the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 

The following is the text of the interview:

Q: How would you characterize China's current policy in West Asia?

A: West Asia and China are highly complementary in economic fields. West Asia is the largest producer and exporter in oil and gas in the world, as well as being an important market for China’s manufacturing products. China is the largest importer of oil and gas in the world, and this region is China’s predominantly largest source of energy import. China’s long-term and current West Asia policy is to maintain friendly mutual relationships, and continue to enhance ties in economic fields particularly in the oil and gas sector. Due to the critical importance of West Asia in the supply of oil and gas, and Chinese energy consumption heavily depends on import, therefore the regional stability in West Asia is critical for China, and Beijing has high willingness to contribute to the peace and stability of the region.

Q: In his visit to West Asia, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed a five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in the region. How do you assess the initiative?

A: The five-point initiative reflects China’s long-standing West Asian policy. The security and stability in the region are in accord with the world’s interests including China. China feels happy to conduct contributions to bring about stability to the region through its close ties with West Asian countries. 

Q: Recently, China and Iran, both subject to U.S. sanctions, signed a 25-year cooperation agreement to strengthen their centuries-old ties. In your view, how will the agreement impact mutual cooperation?

A: The long-term agreement will strongly stimulate the mutual cooperation between China and Iran in infrastructure, communications, oil and gas, and industrial zones. China has rich experience of promoting economic growth and industrialization through increasing investment in infrastructures such as, express roads, ports, railways, airports, electricity generations and networks, communications, and establishing many industrial zones. Iran has large potential in industrialization and urbanization and it can learn from Chinese experience through in-depth cooperation with China. 

Q: How do you assess the significance of the comprehensive strategic partnership, specifically in developing oil and gas projects?

A: The oil and gas sector will greatly benefit from the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement. China and Iran are highly complementary in the oil and gas sector. Iran is the richest country in oil and gas resource, and China is the largest importer of oil and gas. Due to the U.S. sanctions, Iran’s oil export has faced obstacles and challenges. Under the agreement, China will provide huge potential market for Iranian oil and gas. Also, the settlement in RMB between Iran and China can escape the constraints of SWIFT and U.S. sanctions. The agreement can also enhance reciprocal investment in oil and gas sector, for instance, China can increase investment in the upstream of the oil and gas sector, while Iran can conduct investment in China’s downstream sector.

Q: Some experts believe that the signing of this document will lead to a greater failure of the U.S. pressure on both Iran and China. What is your view?

A: The signing of the agreement is fundamentally based on the mutual benefits of Iran and China, and is not targeted at any other country. Iran can occupy more Chinese market in oil and gas sector and attract capital from China to stimulate the development of domestic infrastructure and manufacturing industries. China can diversify oil and gas import source and enhance supply security, and find a large potential market for its manufacturing products. Objectively, the agreement will effectively reduce the pressures of U.S. sanctions to Iran, and Sino-U.S. rivalry to China. 

Q: Why have Western powers expressed concern over the agreement between the two sovereign states?  

A: The western countries should understand that the agreement is based on mutual benefit between Iran and China, particularly in economic fields, and is a win-win cooperation plan, and which doesn’t target at them. They should feel relaxed. 

Q: How do you assess the tensions between China and the United States during Joe Biden's presidency? Will these tensions worsen during Biden’s presidency?

A: The tensions between China and U.S. will continue in Biden’s presidency. China will open up more toward outside world to neutralize U.S.’s behaviors of decoupling in technologies, and make friends and establish partnership with more countries to minimize U.S.’s pressures. 
 

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