Tehran has been under pressure from international sanctions, whose efficacy largely depends on the actions of countries such as Russia, China, India and Turkey, each of which has many years of close financial and trade relations with Iran. The increased pace of economic cooperation of Iran with these countries and particularly with China, in fact, is the most vulnerable element of any attempts to pressure Iran, the U.S. and its satellites.
Despite the desire for independence from external control, Iran in recent years has become more reliant on China in economic, diplomatic and to some extent militarily.
From Beijing's point of view, Iran is an important strategic partner and ally against the United States. Iran has huge reserves of oil and natural gas, which are badly needed for China's development, in addition, Iran is a growing market for Chinese goods.
Iran is in conflict with the United States, China provides a unique opportunity to expand its influence in the middle East, but also diverts a significant part of the U.S. Navy from the Pacific.
Before the 1979 revolution, relations between Tehran and Beijing has been minimized largely due to U.S. pressure to limit economic and diplomatic relations with Communist China (turnover less than $ 1.5 billion. USA). After the revolution of China on the third day he recognized the young Islamic Republic. Gradually, Beijing was able to improve its relations with revolutionary Iran, skillful diplomacy and arms sales during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) contributed to building a relationship of trust. In addition, contributed to the development of Chinese-Iranian cooperation and the refusal of Beijing's support for revolutionary communism in the period when the Islamic Republic in the first years of the revolution fought with left-wing forces. Both China and Iran opposed the Pro-American regimes and against Western "domination" in the system of international relations. China is already in those years was considered its relations with Iran as an opportunity and a way to increase its influence in the geostrategically important region of the Persian Gulf , which was dominated by the United States.
Despite the fact that Ayatollah Khomeini declared the intention to pursue a foreign policy of "Neither the West nor the East", practical considerations, particularly the isolation of Iran and Iraq war eventually forced Iran to agree to limited cooperation with Beijing, as it is also not entailed no concessions in domestic and foreign policy.
As time has shown, China has largely been the ideal foreign partner for the Islamic Republic. To Iran, China has never had territorial claims, unlike other great powers, such as Russia and Britain; China has provided Iran with technology that the rest of the world didn't sell, ignoring "provocative" Iran's actions abroad and "violations" of human rights in the country.
Chinese-Iranian relations have moved into a new phase in the late 80's, when in both countries there have been important changes. In Iran — the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, Khomeini's death in 1989 and the adoption of Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. In China Tantamareski the events of 1989 in Beijing.
Dogmatic revolutionary goals in Iran gave way to pragmatism, and began the rapid reconstruction and modernization of its economy and its military power. Both countries were virtually isolated by the United States and its satellites. As a result, during this period, Iran and China began to rapidly increase cooperation in matters of arms and energy, and also to deepen diplomatic cooperation as a response to the isolation of the West.
The rapid growth of the PRC economy has led to the fact that by 1994 the country from a net oil exporter became a net importer, which further increased Iran's importance to China.
However, already by 1997 in China, as more of the transition of the national economy on "export track" formed a strong dependence of the rate of growth of the national economy of importing countries, the main of which was the United States. Since the US and Iran were in a state of permanent conflict, Beijing has been forced to significantly reduce the level of relations with Tehran. This resulted in particular in complete collapse of cooperation with Iran in such fields as nuclear energy and aerospace.
However, in the spring of 1999, after a rocket bomb attack of the US Embassy of China in Belgrade, the cooperation between Beijing and Tehran again on the rise.
At the end of 2001, after China joined the world trade organisation, another arm of US pressure on Beijing in its relations with Iran became less. To this end, Washington has repeatedly threatened to Beijing to block its accession to the WTO because of the support of Iran.
In 2002, about the nature of Iran's nuclear program the "international community" there was "some doubt." The images from space revealed two never declared nuclear facility: underground plant for uranium enrichment in Natanz and the heavy water reactor at Arak. In the same year, U.S. President George Bush referred Iran to the "axis of evil" sponsoring terrorism and seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. The United States actively tried to achieve the international isolation of Iran. However, their efforts met with opposition from France, Germany and Britain, China and Russia.
The pressure at that time, the US Russia, Japan, South Korea, India and Europe to reduce trade and investment with Iran, in fact, gave Chinese companies a carte Blanche for penetration into the domestic market of Iran and the development of its energy resources.
China's new leadership (Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, 2003-2013) abandoned the policy of warming relations with the US and the West, which characterized the reign of Jiang Zemin. China also outlined a new economic strategy of "Going out", encourage investments in the energy and resource extraction projects abroad. Chinese trade and investment ties with Iran has considerably increased, and by 2007, China became a trade partner of Iran number one.
Faced with international sanctions, Iran has been deprived of access to foreign capital and the ability to develop your dwindling energy sector. To a considerable extent, the Islamic Republic has become dependent on China as the main economic and diplomatic defender of the regime under internal and external pressure.
Russia, like China, has long been one of the main foreign partners of Iran. The supply of modern weapons, assisted in the development of nuclear industry, Moscow defended the Islamic Republic in the UN Security Council. Relations between Iran and Russia escalated after Russia vote for the adoption of resolution 1929 of the UN Security Council in 2010 and the refusal to sell Iran anti-aircraft missile system s-300. Moscow's relations with Tehran has always been based solely on pragmatism, not on common strategic interests. Russia was one of the Imperial powers that sought to dominate Iran in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, currently, countries compete for influence in Central Asia and the Caspian sea region. According to Iranian experts, Russia primarily sees Iran as a convenient point of impact on the United States or even a regional competitor, not a true strategic partner.
Iran's failure to achieve its strategic goals in the region through cooperation with Russia and other major partners, like India and Brazil, have made Beijing an ideal strategic partner for Tehran. From the point of view of Tehran, the Indian interests are too closely associated with the United States to support Tehran at the expense of Washington. Brazil as a geopolitical actor lacks the economic, military and geopolitical weight.
China is the largest economic partner of Iran. The basis of the economic partnership between Iran and China are energy resources and the growing Chinese demand for energy. Over the past few years, China became the largest oil customer of Iran and a major economic partner. The trade turnover between Iran and China in 2010 reached $ 30 billion. USA.
In 2011 in Tehran formed a joint oil and gas Committee to accelerate the implementation of joint projects and expanding cooperation between Iran and China in the energy field. In may of that year the countries signed an agreement on $ 20 billion. The US to enhance bilateral cooperation in the industrial and mining sectors. Oil supplies to China amounted to around 21 million tons worth more than us $ 12 billion. (about 8% of all Chinese oil imports).
In 2014, the total trade turnover has shown explosive growth, rising to a record 51 billion $ 85 million (in 2013 29.7 billion).
Key in the development of Iran-China relations became 2016. January 22 visit of Chinese President XI Jinping in Tehran. It is noteworthy that the head of China became the first world leader to visit Iran after the lifting of Western sanctions. During the visit the sides signed 17 agreements. Of these, particularly noteworthy is the Agreement on comprehensive strategic partnership and the adjoining 25-year Program for the development of relations and expansion of trade. One of the main goals of this program is to increase trade turnover in ten years to $ 600 billion. Among the signed documents were listed:
- The intergovernmental Memorandum of understanding to promote and establish a Maritime "silk road of XXI century" and the economic belt of Iran — China in the framework of this project;
- Treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal, civil and commercial cases;
- agreement on scientific-technical cooperation, cooperation in the field of environmental protection and on environmental issues;
- A Memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
In 2017, economic and trade relations between the two countries continued to develop and in the first five months showed an increase in the volume of trade by 41 %, to 15.2 billion compared to the same period in 2016 (10.8 billion).
Undeniable is the fact that China's policy towards Iran are often determined by purely pragmatic considerations, but at the same time, it is thanks to Chinese investment Iran was able to successfully resist Western sanctions and develop within its limited possibilities.
For Iran, China is a potential ally against the main enemy — the United States (opposition to American "hegemony" is the ideological pillar of the Islamic Republic), as well as a strong economic partner and a critical supplier of investments and technologies necessary for economic development and modernization.
Iran to China not only profitable trade and economic partner, but also one of the key platforms in the growing rivalry with the United States to obtain the free access to energy resources and markets of the countries of the middle East. In the region, China prefers to act by using economic tools and resources "soft power", clearly following credo: "do Not mistake the one who, avoiding extremes and passions, always chooses the middle path".
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