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New friends of China (current)

The foreign ministers of China and Iran, Wang Yi (left) and Mohammad Javad Zarif, are leading a 25-year strategic partnership.

Photo: AFP

Only the sheer dimensions of the deal should sound the alarm in Washington: the new “strategic partnership” between Beijing and Tehran has been in operation for 25 years, while China intends to invest about $ 400 billion in Iranian infrastructure. In return, Iran offers access to oil discounts. Cooperation in the military is also planned. Both sides set up an Iranian-Chinese bank to avoid US sanctions.

Beijing Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a week-long tour of the Middle East until Tuesday. Although the signing of the agreement in Tehran attracted particular media attention, the six state visits reflect the importance that the People’s Republic is attaching to the region. China maintains good relations with all governments: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Oman or Bahrain. This is even more astonishing when you look at Beijing’s human rights abuses against the Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

But economic benefits have outweighed them in the long run. After all, China is now the largest foreign investor in the region. Many countries have a 5G network provided by telecommunications supplier Hawaii, and are modernizing their ports and railways through China’s “Belt and Road” initiative.

Beijing has also proven to be a reliable partner, especially during corona epidemics: the People’s Republic not only sent safety masks to the region, but is currently providing vaccine doses to both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The population belonged to the global elite group when they were vaccinated.

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As for China, it is also about forming new alliances. With its long-term strategy, the People’s Republic is in the process of a fundamental transformation, aimed primarily at arming itself against potential U.S. sanctions. Beijing has been working to replace the US dollar with its U.S. digital currency, creating its own semiconductor industry that wants to become independent of U.S. imports and its People’s Liberation Army wants to be on par with the U.S. armed forces for the next 15 years.

Imported oil now secured around the Persian Gulf is essential for the West to become self-sufficient. Over the past few months, black gold imports from Beijing to Iran have risen to the highest level since the implementation of US sanctions under Donald Trump. Iran is in a severe economic crisis, among other things, exacerbated by the corona epidemic, due to sanctions imposed in 2018.

At first glance, it may seem that a group hostile to the West is growing stronger under Chinese leadership. This is because while the conflict between the two leading world powers, China and the United States, is leading to increasing alienation, Beijing is seeking to join forces with Russia and Iran.

But that is not the case with China, says Ruwan Chongse, China’s deputy director of international research and foreign policy expert. Joe Biden is confident under the new president.

In fact, many Chinese investors are openly unaware of their dealings with Iran. Fears of sanctions from Washington remain high. Meng Wanshou, the daughter of Hawaii founder Ren Zhengfei, who was arrested in Canada for allegedly ignoring unilateral sanctions imposed on her adopted country, Canada, has issued a warning.

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