The visit of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi to Beijing will put the strategic partnership agreement between the two countries into practice, and strengthen, and perhaps even resolve, Iran’s options in the inevitability of heading east, in light of the loss of hope for the return of dialogue with the West, led by the United States.
In international relations, there are daily details and there are turning points. The big countries follow the daily details, but they stop a lot at the turning points.
Hence, the visit of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi to Beijing marked a turning point in the history of relations between the two countries, but this visit did not receive media attention despite its importance to the two countries, the region and the world as a whole.
This is due to the preoccupation of the Arab media with the catastrophic earthquake that occurred in Syria and Turkey, and the dissatisfaction of many countries in the region with that visit, and to a Western desire to downplay the scale of the event and its repercussions on it, led by the United States of America.
The importance of the visit lies in terms of timing and objectives, as it came at a time when the world is experiencing an unprecedented escalation against Russia in Ukraine. This escalation reflects international alignments that may foretell a third world war if the pressure on Moscow exceeds the limit in which it is able to overcome it and ensure Victory, or at least not defeat.
The visit comes and the world is watching the behavior of the two countries (China and Iran) with caution and deliberation, especially since the two countries are supportive of Moscow, if not allies, as many analysts like to call it. The visit reflects the interest of the leaders of the two countries in developing their bilateral relations in various fields, to move to the level of strategic partnership as intended.
The importance of this visit comes from the fact that it transfers the strategic partnership agreement signed between the two countries into actual implementation, that partnership that was signed on March 27, 2021, and provided for economic cooperation amounting to 400 billion dollars for a period of 25 years, and includes all military and commercial fields.
The unusual rituals and ceremonies that accompanied the Iranian president’s visit reflected the importance of that visit to Beijing, which came at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. As this visit came at the beginning of the Chinese New Year, to constitute a major political opening in the year of the Chinese rabbit.
In order to know the importance of this partnership, and the extent of the two countries’ interest in it, we must point out that the owner of this idea and initiative is Chinese President Xi Jinping, who had presented this initiative in 2016 when he visited Tehran. Consequently, Beijing has a clear vision and specific goals for this partnership, and it is most keen to expedite its implementation of the strategic gains it expects from it.
This initiative was put forward during the era of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and it received the blessing and support of the Supreme Leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei, who supports Iran’s policy of heading east towards Moscow and Beijing. Thus, what Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi is doing is a continuation of those directions and putting them into effect.
This partnership has also been criticized by some Iranian parties, who doubted and feared at the same time that it would be more in the interest of Beijing.
This opposition, and this criticism, constitutes a healthy case that reflects the existence of another opinion on the Iranian political scene, but the final word was for the Iranian Parliament, which approved and endorsed the agreement.
Linking this initiative to the Chinese president’s visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the signing of several agreements with it, and with some Arab countries, is largely inaccurate. The initiative was formulated and signed years ago, and Beijing is keen to cooperate with all parties in the region, as it always announces.
When the initiative was introduced in 2016, there was no trade war between China and the United States. Thus, its goal is greater than being a response to the trade sanctions imposed by the United States on China, and earlier on Iran.
Importance of Cooperation for Beijing:
Beijing has great strategic interests in the region, and with Tehran in particular, so it has devoted $400 billion to its strategic partnership with it. Noting that these amounts are not loans or donations, but rather development investment projects from which Beijing expects to achieve more profits.
The importance of this cooperation for Beijing can be determined by the following:
Implementation of the Belt and Road project that connects China with about 150 countries, in which the countries of the region play a major role, especially Tehran, which is an important point on the land route.
– China has signed long-term strategic agreements with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, and these agreements need a secure security environment, and this will not be achieved without the involvement of Iran in that.
– Strengthening the Chinese presence near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and striving for Beijing to have a role in security agreements in this region. Especially after the American withdrawal from the region. Where Beijing believed that the United States was maintaining the security of the region without China paying anything.
Beijing wants to enter the region “economically” only, in the sense that it avoids getting involved in political disputes that are impossible to resolve from Beijing’s point of view.
– Arriving at the Iranian port of Jask, near the Strait of Hormuz, and close to the US Fifth Fleet base located in Bahrain.
– Obtaining the technology of manufacturing Iranian marches, by purchasing these marches or transferring their manufacture and localization in China, where there is talk of Beijing’s desire to purchase 15,000 marches. These drones made a difference in the Ukrainian war, after Tehran provided them to Moscow.
– Beijing seeks to strengthen its partnerships and cooperation with the countries of the world, in order to thwart the American efforts aimed at containing Beijing and surrounding it with Asian alliances (Quad-Okus) and others.
China is a great economic giant, or the factory of the world as some like to call it. This plant, in order to operate, needs a great deal of oil.
And China had witnessed a major closure since the emergence of Covid 19 in the country, and this closure lasted for about three years, then the wheel of life returned after the government lifted all measures related to Covid in the country, announcing the return of life to normal as it was before Covid.
China’s daily need for oil is estimated at 10 million barrels. Beijing can only secure 25% of its needs locally, and the rest is all imported. The importance of Tehran in terms of energy lies in two things:
– Iran has the third reserves in OPEC oil (157 billion barrels), and Iran’s oil production is estimated at 4 million barrels per day. Thus, it constitutes a stable and stable source of energy for a quarter of a century at reduced prices.
– Beijing imports about 50% of its oil needs from the Middle East, and this oil is transported through the Strait of Hormuz, in which Iran has great influence. Thus, securing this strait is of great importance to Beijing. Iran is also located between the Gulf and the Caspian Sea (the world’s two energy reservoirs).
Noting that China is the largest buyer of Iranian oil, and there are no accurate figures about the value of this exchange, especially since Beijing neglects to put any figures on that as a result of the sanctions imposed on Tehran. Where this oil is purchased through intermediaries or private companies holding the nationality of other countries.
Tehran seeks to deal with the accelerating international changes, as its nuclear negotiations with the West have reached a dead end, and there is no hope of resuming negotiations during the Biden era, and even during the era of the next president, perhaps, whether he is a Republican or a Democrat. The Democrats are against the agreement, or they do not have the ability to revive it. As for the Republicans, it was they who froze this agreement during the Trump era.
A key meeting with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei before traveling to China, and the size and high status of the Iranian delegation reflect what is at stake for Iran. He accompanied the prime ministers of foreign affairs, economy, roads, urban development, oil, agriculture and industry, and the governor of the Central Bank of Iran.
Iran suffers from a difficult economic situation as a result of the Western sanctions imposed on it, which caused destabilization of its internal conditions and sparked a wave of protests in the Iranian street. Tehran is also witnessing American Zionist attempts aimed at destabilizing its security and stability, as the country has recently witnessed activity by the Zionist Mossad, and the Iranian government was able to uncover and dismantle some of its networks.
Tehran is seeking to play a greater role in the international arena through its accession to the BRICS and Shanghai organizations, and China’s supportive role in that. It also seeks to benefit from the projects that Beijing will implement in various fields (energy – banks – banks – trains – railways – airports) and most importantly is the fifth generation technology, and the Chinese positioning program (Baidu) as an alternative to the American GBS. These are important technologies For use in the military field – Better Internet Control Technologies – (Mako) Free Trade Zone in Northern Iran).
It is true that the partnership focused on civil cooperation between the two countries, but it did not overlook military cooperation, which includes conducting joint military exercises between the two parties, conducting joint military research to reach the manufacture of joint weapons, and exchanging intelligence information between the two countries.
In conclusion, the visit of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Beijing will put the strategic partnership agreement between the two countries into practice. And it strengthens, and perhaps even resolves, Iran’s choices in the inevitability of heading east, in light of the loss of hope for the return of dialogue with the West, led by the United States of America. It encourages Beijing to engage more in cooperation with the countries of the region, and perhaps mediate to find a settlement to the existing disputes there.
While stressing that Chinese-Iranian cooperation is not directed against any country in the region, it may have positive results and repercussions in terms of resolving some outstanding problems.
Source : Almayadeen