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Iran and China concluded on Saturday March 27 in Tehran a cooperation agreement that covers 25 years, the result of several years of discussions. Beijing is Tehran's largest trading partner, which is currently in the midst of an economic crisis after the reinstatement of US sanctions. Researcher Thierry Coville from the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS) analyzes the economic, strategic and geopolitical stakes of this agreement. </p><div> <p><span><span><span><strong><span><span>RFI</span></span></strong></span></span></span> <span><span><span><strong><span><span>: Do we know the exact content of this agreement?</span></span></strong></span></span></span> <span><span><span><strong><span><span>?</span></span></strong></span></span></span>
Thierry coville : The two countries have been negotiating for several months. It is an agreement between Iran and China that will last 25 years. We do not know the details, but we know that it is a military and strategic economic partnership.
China is already an important economic and military partner of Iran, it has even become the first market share in Iran. But that institutionalizes their relationship, since we are still talking about a 25-year partnership. It is also part of the project of ” [Nouvelles] silk roads ” from China. And conversely, China is surely committed to investing heavily in energy and transport infrastructure in Iran.
Could this deal help Iran’s economy recover? ?
It’s not going to solve Iran’s problems in the short term. Iran is in economic crisis mainly because of American sanctions, in particular because it cannot sell its oil. And besides, China itself had to reduce its oil purchases from Iran, under the impact of US sanctions.
But since the election of Joe Biden, China has been trying to boost its purchases of Iranian oil. This gives Iran a longer-term perspective and makes it understand that there it has an important partner: China, which is not going to impose Sanctions.
It is therefore above all a long-term solution for Iran. China has become one of the world’s leading economies, an important partner to which Tehran will be able to sell its oil and which will be able to invest in Iran’s aging infrastructure and also in its energy equipment.
Of course, it doesn’t only work one way : China is structurally an importer of energy, oil and gas. So it helps to have a secure long-term energy source for China.
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Should this also be seen as a message of independence sent to the United States? ?
Yes, very clearly. Moreover, a few months ago, when we started to talk about this pact, there were critics in the United States who accused the Trump administration of having pushed Iran into the arms of China, with its maximum pressure policy. It’s not false : Iran has nevertheless been economically crushed by the American action and the Europeans have done nothing to fight against it. So, logically, they say to themselves “Well, we better have long-term economic relations with a country with whom we have good relations and which will not, in a few years, turn against us “.
Very clearly, China is the only country that geopolitically can take this risk of marking its independence from the United States. : Beijing shows that it is pursuing its own policy.
We know that there is great concern in China about the need to secure their energy sources abroad, if they want to maintain high growth. So they need Iran, but we are also in a geopolitical confrontation between China and the United States. I don’t believe there are any other countries that can play this game right now.
For Thierry Coville, the Iran-China agreement “is a message to the United States”
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Source site www.rfi.fr