The Forum for Partners in Iran's Marketplace

June 2021, No. 97

Millennium 21st Century

Iran & China

Future Perspective!

There are a few points to note about this collaborative project. First of all, diplomacy must be accepted as a profession and should be considered as a specialized work.

By: Abolfazl Olamaifar, Director of the China Desk at the IRI Ministry of Foreign Affairs

A question that is asked over and over again these days is why the exact text of the Iran-China cooperation document is not made available to the public?

The Chinese based on the levels of relations they have defined work with 78 countries and five different organizations around the globe. Iran is also an independent country and has paid a high price for winning independence. The question of the sanctions shows the importance of independence for Iran. As a rule, such countries have issues that they deal with in secret. At the same time, no country would make all its long-term plans public. Certainly, regarding the long-term cooperation program between Iran and China they have gathered at the negotiation table according to the agreement reached between the parties and based on their interests and concessions.

Of course, the agreement has been reached on an equal, win-win basis and with the knowledge of all relevant institutions. Therefore, there is no need to disclose all the details of the cooperation document. In the meantime, the issue, which is highly emphasized and sensitized by Western countries, is fundamentally contradictory. Many of these countries themselves have entered into numerous agreements with other countries, the details of which are not disclosed. It should be emphasized, however, that this is a plan and it is not necessary to publicize details of the plans so that all countries would know what is going to happen.

In fact, a strategic plan means that it provides the ground for concluding contracts and specifies areas of cooperation for both parties; it is within this framework that cooperation is formed with each other. In fact, the roadmap identifies the benefits and areas of cooperation and the plans that the two countries can work in the long run. Accordingly, in this document, the vision of a long-term plan between the two countries is outlined and the parties have agreed on this issue. So, many of the issues that are being raised are out of the question. As a result, the roadmap has been signed at the ministerial level for the time being. 

Why China?

It must be admitted that a very important event has taken place in East Asia with China playing the central role and a power like this has emerged; it is obvious that other countries want to have a plan for mutual exploitation based on a win-win strategy with a new opportunity created in the international system. It must be admitted that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the coronavirus pandemic have identified realities in the international system, both in the field of economics and in the field of politics and culture; the events have shown that many Western countries that made big claims were too small in practice to meet their commitments.

In the meantime, the United States failed to fulfill its commitments. Therefore, many countries, given the developments in the international system, would plan to take advantage of the new opportunity that has arisen, and Iran is no exception. In fact, this cooperation program is a kind of opportunity building for the country, in the framework of which it will formulate a long-term plan with a powerful country in the field of economy and politics. 

A few points about the collaboration chapter:

There are a few points to note about this collaborative project. First of all, diplomacy must be accepted as a profession and should be considered as a specialized work. Bringing diplomacy to the streets is not in anyones interest, and those who do so think of their own interests. Politics and diplomacy is a specialized job, and it does not mean ignoring public opinion. Public opinion is respectable and we have to be held accountable before it, but it must be acknowledged that diplomacy is a specialized job.

Another point is that Angela Merkel has traveled to China 14 times since coming to power. Germany is currently Chinas largest trading partner, and the two countries have signed many agreements. Surprisingly nothing similar to what is said against Iran-China accord is said against Germany. The same is true of Britain, and the Americans themselves have many exchanges with the Chinese. Whether we like it or not, China is a power that has emerged in the international system and, as a rule, may bring with it opportunities and threats. It is wise to take this opportunity.

The next point is that the Chinese were the first country to implement the metro construction project in Iran and it cost us much less than the price offered by the French. This project, as one of the most successful high-tech projects in China, took place outside of China at that time. The question is, can we imagine Tehran without the subway now? It was a sign of our intelligence that after realizing that the Chinese are capable in this field, we started building the Tehran metro with them. By 2020, orders from Chinese companies to manufacture metro equipment highly increased.

As for the Chinese metro, it should be noted that the country was able to build 39,000 kilometers of high-speed trains in 12 years, while Japan could only launch 300 kilometers of high-speed trains, and the United States is almost zero. One of the most important tasks of diplomacy in the economic dimension is to be able to quickly discover the capabilities of countries and use it at a cheap price in the interests of our own country.

In addition to the subways, in the field of supertankers and power plants, not only did we not suffer, but we also benefited, and they were win-win contracts. In any case, China has officially bought oil from us, and this means that it has not in fact accepted the unilateralism and analysis that the United States has in mind regarding the issue of the sanctions, and from this point of view, it can be effective on the question of the JCPOA.

Another important point is that this cooperation program provides space for institutions, individuals and relevant groups of the two countries to enter into interaction. It depends on how this capacity created by diplomacy is used. For three years now, China has been holding import exhibitions in Shanghai. In fact, they say, Come and tell us what goods you can import into China. This is a valuable opportunity. Now its very important what we take there and offer.

In the first and second year of the exhibition, we took some goods, and in the third year that we are now participating, almost 85 to 90 percent of our companies that participated in this exhibition were knowledge-based. Therefore, the type of interaction between the relevant institutions and centers of our country is important. Admittedly, in the next decade, one of the most important challenges in the international system will be the challenge between the United States and China on an international scale. Given the assumptions that have been made about the two countries relations and the issues they are dealing with, these challenges do not seem to be easily alleviated, so it must be admitted that the unilateralism sought by the Americans is opposed by the Chinese.

It must be admitted that in the last 40 years we have paid a high price to maintain our independence. Therefore, we will never sacrifice the interests of the country for ephemeral issues. One of the most important frameworks of the Iran-China Comprehensive Cooperation Program is that it provides the field for the country to cooperate with another country in a 25-year process and since there is no question of any contract it has opened a wide field for future interactions, contracts and prospects.


Subscribe to

  June 2021
No. 97