Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
There is a hue and cry in the power capitals of the world and of course international media about expected “China-Iran Strategic Deal (CHISD) which may be a “paradigm shift” in the region as well international power politics.
It is not “defiance” to prevailing international system but new chapter of “dialogue”, “diplomacy” and “development” which is primarily based on mutual respect and peace.
It seems that new chess board of power politics will have now new queen, king and new armies to conquer new castles. There may be new “triangle” of power in the region in the days to come.
Washington, Brussels, Tel Aviv and even Delhi have now “rattled” with imminent strategic deal between China and Iran. The New York Times reports that China and Iran have prepared a far-reaching commercial agreement that would offer Iran $400 billion Chinese investment over next 25 years in return for selling China a large proportion of the oil it produces over the same period at a discounted rate. The partnership, detailed in an 18 page proposed agreement.
Being prominent regional expert of China I expect that this deal would further enhance Chinese presence in Iranian domestic banking system, telecommunications sector, shipments/ports, railways and dozens of associated projects. Iran will supply its oil on discounted rate to China for the next 25 years.
Moreover, it would deepen military cooperation and chance of a foothold in a region that has been a strategic preoccupation of the United States for decades. It calls for joint training and exercises, joint research and weapons development and intelligence sharing.
According to deal projects include airports, high-speed railways and subways. Furthermore China would develop free-trade zones in Maku and Abadan. It proposes China to build the infrastructure for a 5G telecommunications network, to offer the new Chinese Global Positioning System, Beidou, and to help Iranian authorities assert greater control over what circulates in cyberspace.
It also calls for joint training and exercises, joint research and weapons development and intelligence sharing all to fight the lopsided battle with terrorism, drug and human trafficking and cross-border crimes. Chinese president Xi Jinping proposed this partnership while visiting to Iran in 2016 which was subsequently approved by President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet in June 2020.
Being prominent regional expert of China I term it victory of Chinese “collect wisdom” over “wizard trumpism”. It is a grand success of “Iranian nationalism” over “US imperialism” which usually does not care humans but follows commercial policies to gain more and more corporate gains through its visible socio-economic sanctions and invisible military adventures. It is also a prime example of Iranian “superior diplomacy” which has now succeeded to open a new window of opportunity for Iran and its people to stay away from US suffocating socio-economic and political sanctions. The punishing sanctions regime imposed by the Trump administration would be severely mitigated by the Chinese investment, expertise, and massive infrastructure upgrade.
Tehran’s largest source of revenue, have plunged since the Trump administration began imposing sanctions in 2018; China gets about 75 per cent of its oil from abroad and is the world’s largest importer, at more than 10 million barrels a day last year. It hopes that new partnership would be a “game” and “fate” changer for Iran to accelerate its declining economy in the days to come.
Many regional experts are of the opinion that it would start new era of cold war in the world where economic vested interests would be vastly manipulated to create hurdles for the other. I am of the opinion that the European Union (EU) would remain neutral because the Europeans are so deeply tied financially and economically to the U.S. that they could not offer any independent arrangement permitting them to offer sanctions relief to the Iranians. Due to superior economy and good governance in its financial system the Chinese would face no such constraints. China has been building a financial system that bypasses the US. Overall the Chinese economy is so large that any negative impact from a cut-off of western trade can easily be mitigated.
It is indeed a “strategic defeat” to the U.S. and its “maximum pressure” policies to Iran.