Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his Chinese colleague Wang Yi happily acknowledged their elbows on Saturday after the signing of a new cooperation agreement between Iran and China. Iran will provide China with cheap oil in return for billions of dollars in Chinese investment in Iran’s infrastructure.
His face mask couldn’t hide Zarif’s wide smile. The minister’s joy is understandable, because Iran has few allies at the moment. After the signing ceremony, Zarif concluded, “China is a friend in difficult times.” China will remain a friend for a long time to come, as the cooperation agreement defines the path the two countries hope to travel together over the next 25 years. It is the first time that Iran has entered into a treaty with this long-term vision with a world power.
400 billion in investments
The official text of the treaty has not been released, but insiders say it is not much different from the previous version that was leaked last year, according to reports. New York times. In this previous version, it was agreed that Iran would supply China with oil at a significant discount, and in return China would invest at least $ 400 billion in Iran over the next 25 years, including in ports, railways, the healthcare system and the telecommunications sector.
This new partnership sabotages the US attempt to isolate Iran economically through sanctions, bringing the country back to the negotiating table to discuss a new Iranian deal. The “ old ” deal – which restricted Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting US sanctions – collapsed in 2018 when former US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw the United States and reimpose harsh sanctions.
Although Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, favors a new deal, there appears to be little progress. The two sides expect the other side to take the first step: The United States demands Iran first to get rid of its nuclear program, and Iran calls on the United States to lift the sanctions at first.
The new Silk Road also passes through the Middle East
Biden’s strategy of not lifting sanctions and putting the Iranian regime under economic pressure that calls for a return to the Iran deal appears to be counterproductive as China jumps into the economic gap that has arisen. China is one of the few countries that continues to buy Iranian oil, despite it being prohibited by US sanctions. By signing the cooperation agreement, it strengthens the relationship with Iran.
China’s interest in Iran is also part of a broader economic interest in the region, an interest driven by China.Belt and road initiativee ‘, also known as the New Silk Road, is an investment and infrastructure project aiming to boost trade routes between Asia, Europe and Africa.
Since the initiative was launched in 2013, it has become a cornerstone of China’s foreign policy. In recent years, China has helped Saudi Arabia with its nuclear program, rolling out 5G networks in various countries and investing billions in infrastructure projects in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, among other countries.
Chinese activity in the Middle East is a thorn in the side of the United States, which is slowly diminishing its influence. Or, as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted in February, “The post-American era has begun.”
The relationship between Iran and the United States is entering a new phase. But who takes the first step?
Iran and America almost went to war under President Trump. With Biden’s arrival, the tension quickly subsides, but the road is to political relaxation Long and bumpy.