By Chang Hua, Ambassador of China to Iran,

Side by side and hand in hand, usher in a new era for China-Iran friendship

August 14, 2021 - 20:21

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Iran (August 15, 2021)

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Iran. 50 years ago, representatives from both countries signed the Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations in Islamabad, which started a new page for China-Iran friendship.

As the ancient Chinese saying goes, “Even mountains and oceans cannot distance those with common aspirations”. Though China and Iran are separated by countless mountains and rivers, the two ancient civilizations were closely linked by the ancient Silk Road, and the two peoples have forged a profound friendship through exchanges along the Silk Road.

As early as 2000 years ago, the Chinese historical masterwork “Shiji” (“Records of the Grand Historian” ) already recorded the Parthian Empire. In the 1st century BC, the envoy of the Han Dynasty named Gan Ying traveled to the Parthian Empire and opened up a route between China and the Roman Empire, later known as the ancient Silk Road. The Parthian King also sent an envoy in return to show his goodwill. Since then, amicable exchanges between the two countries have been continuous. During the Tang and Song Dynasties after the 7th century, many Iranians traveled to China along the land or the maritime Silk Roads to seek knowledge, practice medicine or pursue business opportunities. Their footprints could be found in Xi’an, Guangzhou, Quanzhou and other large cities in many parts of China. In the 13th century, the famous Iranian poet Saadi wrote down his unforgettable trip to Kashgar, Xinjiang in China. In the 15th century, Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty commanded a huge fleet to carry on his seven maritime expeditions, during which he reached Hormuz in southern Iran three times. The thousands-years-long friendly exchanges between the two countries made great contributions to the development of world civilization. Precious goods like silk, porcelain, tea and technologies of paper-making, metallurgy, printing, gunpowder-making and etc. from China arrived in Iran along the Silk Road, and then were spread to Europe and other places. Pomegranate, grape, olive, spinach and other plants, as well as glass, gold and silver utensils and musical instruments were introduced into China from Iran and Europe, which leaved a far-reaching impact centuries down.

On August 16, 1971, China and Iran formally established diplomatic relations. Once again, the two ancient civilizations joined hands and have ever since left solid footprints of developing side by side and hand in hand.

Over the past 50 years, the political mutual trust between China and Iran has been continuously deepening, and our traditional friendship has grown stronger. The two countries have maintained close high-level exchanges and the connotation of strategic relations have been constantly enriched. In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran and the two countries announced the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership, thus opening a new chapter of China-Iran bilateral ties. The leaders of the two countries have had in-depth exchanges of views on enhancing bilateral relations under new circumstances and reached broad consensus, laying out the direction for bilateral cooperation in various fields. It is proven by history that China-Iran relations have withstood the test of changing international situation. The two countries firmly support each other in safeguarding sovereignty and national dignity, as well as the development path chosen by themselves. No matter how the world situation evolves, China’s will to develop relations with Iran does not change. The two sides have firmly supported each other on issues related to their core interests and major concerns of their nation, which has effectively consolidated the strategic mutual trust between the two countries and firmly safeguarded international fairness and justice.

Over the past 50 years, practical cooperation between the two countries in various fields has yielded abundant fruits. China and Iran are highly complementary in economic elements and have broad space for developmental cooperation. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, bilateral trade volume between China and Iran has leapfrogged from no more than ten million US dollars to tens of billions of dollars. In recent years, the United States’ withdrawal from the JCPOA and reimposition of sanctions against Iran have brought difficulties and obstacles to the practical cooperation between China and Iran. However, China has always supported Iran’s reasonable demands concerning JCPOA, upheld legitimate cooperation with Iran in trade, energy and other fields, and actively worked on the international community to ensure Iran’ economic interests. In addition, there are broad prospects for China-Iran cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. With enthusiastic participation and full support from all parties, the Belt and Road Initiative has become the largest international cooperation platform in the world, and demonstrates great resilience and vitality against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic and the global economic downturn. Iran, as an important juncture on the Silk Road, can certainly make significant contributions to the Belt and Road cooperation. In March, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi signed the plan for comprehensive cooperation with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif in Tehran. The plan will tap the potential for cooperation in areas such as economy and culture and map out prospects for cooperation between China and Iran in the long run, and is bound to further promote the continuous upgrading of the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership and better benefit the two peoples.

Over the past 50 years, the cultural ties between the two countries have been increasingly closer, and people-to-people exchanges have continued to thrive. Culture is like a bridge to facilitate the communication between countries and an effective carrier to enhance mutual understanding between different peoples. As a line from a Chinese poem goes, “though intimate friends miles apart, no distance if sharing a heart”. Iranian famous poet Saadi also said, “those who are far away but intelligent are in the presence, and those who are near but blind are distant”. Both Chinese civilization and Persian civilization have existed for thousands of years, and the two brilliant civilizations have been constantly fascinating, interacting and influencing each other since the opening of the Silk Road, contributing a splendid chapter to the history of world civilization. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, exchange and cooperation between China and Iran in areas such as culture, education, media, publishing and tourism have continued to develop, and the two peoples have become more familiar and amicable, which brings new vigor to the Silk Road spirit of openness and inclusiveness. In 2019, Iran exempted entry-visa for Chinese citizens, which greatly facilitates Chinese tourists traveling to Iran. More Chinese tourists are able to experience the splendor and glory of the ancient Persian civilization, and their travel also enhanced the mutual understanding of the two peoples. Although the Covid-19 epidemic caused temporary difficulties for face-to-face interactions, the bilateral cultural exchanges are nonetheless promoted via rich and colorful online activities. In July, the two countries jointly held the “Online Concert to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and Iran”. A number of Chinese TV series such as "Together" and “The Imperial Doctress” have been aired on Iranian TV channels. Many Iranian movies were shown in China as well. The two sides also signed online cooperation documents in the fields of film, classic works translation and cultural heritage protection .

Over the past 50 years, the two countries have always supported each other through difficulties. True friends stays in the time of hardship, just as pines stays green in snowstorm. When Iran was faced with grave external environment under the US “maximum pressure” policy, China was firm in developing strategic partnership with Iran and supported Iran’s legitimate demands. Iran is the first country to express support for China at the critical moment in Chinese people’s fight against Covid-19. When the epidemic was reported in Iran, Chinese government, organizations, enterprises and ordinary people also extended a helping hand to Iran providing a large quantity of medical supplies. China also sent its first voluntary medical expert team to assist Iran in the battle against Covid-19. The traditional friendship between China and Iran has deepened through fighting together against the epidemic, which also shows the profound friendship between the two peoples. 

This year is crucial for both China and Iran. Chinese Communist Party just celebrated its 100th anniversary on July 1. General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that through the continued efforts of the whole Party and the entire nation, we had achieved the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. This means that we have brought about a historic resolution to the problem of absolute poverty in China, and we are now marching in confident strides toward the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects. This year in Iranian calender is Year 1400, the beginning of a new century. Iran is also entering an important historical stage marked by the second step of the Islamic Revolution and the seventh five-year plan. China-Iran relations are at an important historical juncture of summarizing the past achievements and striving for a better future. As Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out in his letter of congratulation to President Raisi, he stands ready to work with President Raisi to strengthen bilateral strategic communication, consolidate political mutual trust, and broaden and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation of China and Iran in various fields, so as to benefit the two countries and their people. At a new historical starting point, China stands ready to work with Iran to take the opportunity of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations to further strengthen cooperation in various fields and make solid and sound progress in China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership.


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