PEJOURNAL – “Iran-China relations are not a simple bilateral relationship. It will be very important in the political system of the world and in our region, and for this reason it has opponents”, according to the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, in the meeting held by the International Assembly of Muslim University Professors, Hossein Malaek, Iran’s former ambassador to China, said that
China’s Serious Geopolitical Need for Iran
He cited the lack of a model for the development of regular and precise and so-called organized relations as one of the weaknesses of all agreements between Iran and foreign countries, adding: “I believe we entered into negotiations with the Chinese government on a 25-year agreement in times of need and sanctions. From the point of view of the system and international obligations, China is in a situation where it is looking for a coalition and has a serious geopolitical need for Iran.”
Iran’s Manpower, Strategic Value Privileges for Strategic Relations with China
In continuation of the meeting, Gholam Ali Khoshrou, while reviewing China’s economic development indicators in terms of GDP, per capita income and the country’s development curve and comparing it with the United Nations States, said: “China’s economy, industry and trade have a special place and China has special capacities.”
The former Iranian envoy to the United Nations described the “One Road One Belt” project that China is seeking to implement as very important, strategic and ambitious, adding: “Iran’s manpower position and strategic value help us to have a strategic relationship with China.; So we need to get to know China better and remember that the 25-year Memorandum of Understanding is just a roadmap right now” and need to be turned into projects where the interests of both sides are served.
The Need for a Comprehensive Long-Term Plan
In continuation, Dr. Abolfazl Olamaei also considered the existence of a comprehensive long-term plan between the two countries imperative and said: “Undoubtedly, the 21st century is the century of Asia and the formulation of this document is a response to the same requirements that exist in the developments between East and West Asia in the next two decades.”
Emphasizing that research studies show that in the coming years, more than 80% of world trade will be between East and West Asia, and that the two complement each other, the professor added: “Countries like Iran, emerging as a world power, if they have a specific plan, they can make more profit; Therefore, developing a long-term relationship is entirely based on national interests. At the same time, the idea of “One Road One Belt that increases the speed of exchanges in the land is normally of interest to us and can bring us benefits.
US Is Blocking Iran-China Relations
Dr. Hua Liming, the former Chinese ambassador to Iran, while pointing to the growth of trade relations between Tehran and Beijing considered the United States the only obstacle in the way of relations between the two countries and said: US presidents always warned Chinese presidents not to get too close to Iran; Therefore, Iran and China must be very vigilant, because the United States has been trying for 20 years to prevent the development and growth of relations between the two countries and to create misunderstandings. We must not allow others to take advantage of us.
China’s Iran Outlook Is Strategic and Long-Term
Also at the meeting, Dr. Wu Bingbing, a faculty member of the Beijing University, said: “In China, Iran is a globally influential country and plays a constructive role in promoting stability in the region, while Iran is one of the main suppliers of energy in the world; Therefore, China’s view of Iran is strategic and long-term.”
He added: “There is a kind of strategic recognition between the two countries, but a lot of efforts must be made to deepen this trust and provide a platform for it through public diplomacy. The relationship of nations with each other, leaders with leaders, businessmen with businessmen, officials with officials and the context of social networks can play a role in building trust.”
Overcoming US Sanctions a Challenge for China
“Despite the sanctions, trade between the two countries has expanded largely over the past five years,” said Dr. Jin Lianxiang, a faculty member of the Shanghai Institute of International Studies in China, noting that Iran and China have many reasons for comprehensive relations and strategic partnership. And China could be an important power or economic partner for Iran.”
He described overcoming US sanctions as China’s challenge in its bilateral relations with Iran, adding that Iran could pave the way for small and medium-sized Chinese companies to invest in Iran. In addition, the politicization of issues is another problem that exists in the relations between the two countries, and Iranian thinkers can help solve this problem.
Role of Thinkers in Correctly Explaining the Strategic Plan
According to the report, Dr. Qin Tian, a faculty member of the Institute of Contemporary International Relations of China, also stressed the role of thinkers and professors in explaining the strategic partnership between the two countries for 25 years, and said: The idea of an agreement between Iran and China came up in 2016 and it is not a response to Trump’s actions. Although the draft states that there may be military-security cooperation between the two countries, the content of the memorandum of understanding shows that there is no threat against the interests of any country.
He continued: “China has no approach to the military paradigm in the Middle East, and China’s approach in the Middle East is regional stability.” He continued: “China has no approach to the military paradigm in the Middle East, and Beijing’s approach in the Middle East is regional stability.”
Implementation of Comprehensive Cooperation Plan Faces Many Challenges
Dr. Hongda Fan, a faculty member of Shanghai University of International Studies in China, also said at the meeting that the Iran-China strategic partnership document had faced serious challenges before its finalization. “This confirms that development of Iran-China bilateral relations is a very difficult job; Because some countries in the world are not interested in better and deeper cooperation between the two countries, and in addition to external factors, many internal factors such as lack of mutual trust and weak knowledge about each other should be considered as an obstacle to the development of relations.”
He pointed out: “Both countries should address some of the concerns of the other side and while translating words to action help to develop knowledge of each other, because currently the information published by other countries is considered a source for the two sides and this issue is harmful to improvement of relationship.”
Necessity of Creating Field of Iranology and Chinese Studies
Dr. Mehdi Yousefi, director of the online education program at Shanghai University of International Studies, said that further knowledge about each other and interaction between them can help sustainable relations. “There are no Chinese studies and Iranology studies fields in the two countries, and what is being dealt with, is limited to language and literature.”
He considered the existence of sufficient stability in Iran as the biggest concern for the Chinese ruling system and explained: “There are problems in terms of infrastructure, including the fact that a series of rooted obstacles must be considered in helping the two sides learn more about one another;” For example, for Chinese politicians and in Chinese culture in general, the issue of religion and Islam in particular as a religion is very unknown, and programs called West Asia or Middle East Studies in China address the Persian Gulf Arab states, and Iran may be discussed in its periphery.”
“In the future, power system in the global network will be such that we will not have superpowers in the sense we once had,” he said. “Economic growth is China’s main focus in various aspects of its policy, and in the medium term, at least next 10 year, it does not want to escalate tensions with the United States because it would directly affect its economic growth. In this regard, the intensification of cooperation with Iran can increase the level of tension with the United States, and for this reason, the media and officials of this country tend to remain silent in this regard.
Role of Elites in Building Strategic Trust
Dr. Mohsen Shariatinia, a faculty member of Shahid Beheshti University, also said that the issue of recognition is not so serious in the relations between the two countries, because this is a relationship between two governments and not between nations. Highlighting the debate on the society and knowledge about one another is not an exact address because it is a document between two governments.
He enumerated interaction, understanding, strategic cooperation and unity as the four stages of the relations between the countries in the international system and continued: 80% of the relations between the countries remain in the interaction. In these 50 years, our relationship has been in the form of interaction for about 40 years, and we have been trying to form an understanding in the government plan for 10 years.
He added: “This document may symbolize the end of the understanding period and the two countries have entered the most difficult period of relations, which is strategic cooperation. During this period, several points should be noted, including that this document is a roadmap and naturally requires an action plan that should be explained between governments and at the level of strategic bureaucracy.”
Shariatinia considered the strengthening of strategic trust as one of the points that we should pay attention to and while emphasizing the role of the elites of the two countries in building strategic trust, he said: “Another point that we should pay attention to in implementing a document and promoting strategic cooperation is the US position. America played a very key role in limiting us after the 1997 revolution; so how we can have a common definition of America’s role in this is very important. Because this relationship should not have an instrumental definition.”
He considered the role of managing differences very important and continued: “We have differences in the foreign policy of the two countries. At the same time, the issue of political Islam and other issues that make a difference between the two countries must be considered. At the same time, things like Corona, which can be described as strategic wonders, should be managed so as not to damage the relationship.”
West’s Destructive Role in Directing, Inducing Distrust in Public Opinion
Dr. Hamed Vafaei, a faculty member of the University of Tehran, also referred to the effective role of Western sources in directing public opinion in Iran and China and instilling mistrust between the two nations, saying: Iranians do not have necessary awareness about China. This is while China has huge capacity for importing Iranian goods and many are unaware about this. We know nothing about the Chinese government and the ruling establishment plans for the future, and if this awareness is done, many concerns will be removed. In the field of public diplomacy, we have not taken any action, while the two nations and the two governments need to know each other better.
Dr. Alireza Mazloum Rahni, a faculty member of the Islamic Azad University, also said that the 25-year cooperation document between Iran and China should definitely be approved by the parliament. “One of the axes of this document is the exchange of local currencies and national currencies and this can help a lot to localize our economy.”