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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/27/21

China and Iran sign 25-year strategic cooperation agreement

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China and Iran Saturday signed a 25-year long cooperation agreement. The accord was signed in Tehran by Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and China's visiting Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The agreement is said to have been in the works since Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran in 2016, also agreeing to increase bilateral trade more than 10-fold to $600bn in the next decade, according to Al Jazeera.

No details of the agreement were officially published, but experts say that the accord hasn't changed much in the 18-page draft that the New York Times released last year.

The plan details 400 billion in investments in dozens of farms over the next 25 years, including banking, telecommunications, ports, railways, healthcare and information technology. In return, China will receive regular payments - and, according to Iranian officials and oil traders, large discounts - on Iranian oil supplies.

The plan calls for further enhancement of military cooperation, including joint training and exercises, joint research and weapons development, and intelligence sharing.

"The deal could deepen China's influence in the Middle East and undercut American efforts to keep Iran isolated. But it was not immediately clear how much of the agreement can be implemented while the U.S. dispute with Iran over its nuclear program remains unresolved," the New York Times said.

President Hassan Rouhani thanked Wang on Saturday for China's stance on the nuclear deal and standing up to "American unilateralism".

"The two countries' cooperation to implement the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal) and implementing commitments by European countries is very important and can change the current situation," he said.

The president also said Iran and China can work together to fight "terrorism and extremism in the region" in addition to economic and trade cooperation.

Wang was quoted by the president's website as saying that maintaining the nuclear deal would mean preserving multilateralism. "The new US administration wants to rethink its policy and return to the JCPOA. China welcomes that," he said.

"We believe this document can be very effective in deepening" Iran-China relations, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, recalling that the pact had first been proposed during a visit to Tehran by Chinese President Xi Jinping in January 2016.

"Xi and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani agreed then to establish a roadmap for "reciprocal investments in the fields of transport, ports, energy, industry and services."

The deal with China marked the first time Iran has signed such a lengthy agreement with a major world power. In 2001, Iran and Russia signed a 10-year cooperation agreement, mainly in the nuclear field, that was lengthened to 20 years through two five-year extensions.

The China-Iran deal forms part of China's trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations.

Global Times comment on China-Iran accord

China has signed a 25-year agreement with Iran to enhance comprehensive cooperation, which however was interpreted by some Western media from a geopolitical competition perspective, claiming that China would invest $400 billion in Iran and the two countries sought to make the agreement a "game changer" for their bilateral cooperation amid US sanctions on Iran, said the Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party paper.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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