Dragon & Phoenix: Khamenei Lauds New Sino-Iranian ‘Strategic Partnership’

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Iran’s clerical leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spoke Saturday on the occasion of the state visit to Iran of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He said,

“The government and people of Iran have always looked and are still looking for expanding relations with independent and trustworthy countries like China and on this basis, the agreement between the presidents of Iran and China for the establishment of a 25-year strategic relation is completely correct and wise.”

“. . . The Islamic Republic of Iran will never forget China’s cooperation during the time of sanctions.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran this weekend, pledging new bilateral of $600 bn. Over 10 years.

Referring to the US influence over countries like Saudi Arabia, Khamenei told China that “Iran is the only independent country in the region that can be trusted in the area of energy because unlike many regional countries, the energy policy of Iran is not influenced by any non-Iranian factor.”

Referring to US exploitation of weaker countries, Khamenei said, “This situation has caused independent countries to pursue more cooperation with one another. The agreement between Iran and China for developing a 25-year strategic relation is within this framework. With the serious follow-up by both sides, agreements will definitely pass through the stage of implementation.”

He added, “Westerners have never been able to win the Iranian nation’s trust,” saying that the US was more hostile than the others. He said, “These hostile policies have caused the people of Iran and the officials of our country to look for developing relations with independent countries.”

Khamenei asked for Chinese help against Daesh (ISIL, ISIS), saying, “Unfortunately, our region has become insecure because of the wrong policies of westerners and also because of a deviant and wrong interpretation of Islam. There is a danger that this will be expanded and developed and therefore, it should be prevented with intelligent cooperation.”

Xi Jinping replied that “The mutual cooperation between Iran and China should increase – day by day – on the basis of mutual interests.”

Referring to the historic Silk Road, Xi said, “By increasing their cooperation, the countries who are located on this route can defend their interests and achieve their goals in the face of the American model for disturbing the balance of the regional economy.” He added, “Some superpowers are trying to create a monopoly and to impose the law of the jungle where “[Y]ou are either with us or with our enemy” play a dominant role, but the progress of emerging economies has taken away the monopoly of power from their hands and it has created a suitable environment for the ideas and policies of independent governments.”

The Chinese president said, “After the lifting of sanctions too, we should increase our cooperation in all areas.” He added, speaking of Iran’s petroleum and natural gas and its literate workforce, “Iran and China’s economy complement each other. On this trip, we have reached an agreement about formulating a plan for a 25-year strategic cooperation and we are ready to increase and deepen our cooperation in cultural, educational, technological, military and security areas as strategic partners.”

Khamenei’s site said that Xi “stated that in the face of terrorism and the complex issues of the region, it is necessary to find a way to increase cooperation between the two countries in the area of security.”

The ‘Strategic Partnership’ between China and Iran consists of 20 articles; here are some of the more central ones:

The ministry of foreign affairs of both countries will hold annual meetings.

The two countries recognized each other’s emphasis on national sovereignty and independence.

They will increase their scientific and academic exchanges.

They will cooperate on counter-terrorism.

The ending of international, UN-backed sanctions, and the continued sanctions imposed by the US Congress, gives Xi an ‘in’ with businesses in Iran.

Related video:

CCTV: “Iran, China vow closer ties during Xi’s visit”

17 Responses

  1. For anyone who has studied modern international diplomacy, this development is entirely predictable and ordinary.

    The extent to which the promises that “the Dragon” and “the Phoenix” are consummated in actual human behavior will depend, of course, on millions of other future unknown variables, such as the future behavior of/cooperation from/antagonism with, that China and Iran may experience with Russia, the USA, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc. etc., , and the decisions that the future political leaderships of China and Iran may make regarding whether they have the resources to follow their own particular desires “no matter what,” or whether they live in a threatened world human society which requires all actors to cooperate if any are to have any chance at survival, and other such basic future variables that human actors may decide to change their thinking on, at any time.

  2. Thank you, Professor, for presenting this mutually coöperative demonstration of geopolitics; A silk road rather than carpet bombing

  3. I suppose our pundits and politicians will find problems with this. I mean they didn’t ask us “May I?”. On the positive side the agreement may justify a new carrier task force or two.

    • In the irrational world of the military-industrial complex, it may squeeze another carrier task force out of the taxpayers. But in real life, Xi just explained why our carriers are becoming obsolete. China is moving all trade inland to keep it from the reach of our Navy. And yes, our pundits are upset because they can’t find an angle to stop it. Having Navy ships stop something in international waters is much fuzzier than having USAF bombers stop something in a sovereign state and we preferred the fuzziness.

    • Except that out carriers can not get within 1000 miles of China (and possibly Iran) without sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

      China has developed (and possibly shared with Iran) a “carrier killer” missile that the USA has no possible defense against.

      Even if the carriers avoid sinking, the extra 2000 miles of flight time plus the need for at least TWO in-flight refuelings per aircraft, makes the carrier very inefficient war toys.

      Then there is the problem that more and more nations (especially China and Iran) have very efficient anti-aircraft systems that physically damaged pilots (excess air time) can not avoid.

      It is not in the American nature to critically question our own behavior, only others.

  4. Mr. Cole,

    You said: “…gives Putin an ‘in’ with businesses in Iran.”

    I think you meant to say: “…gives Xi an ‘in’ with businesses in Iran.”

    • Putin and Xi are the dominant figures in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which could have a trade dimension as well as a military one. If Iran is now approved for full SCO membership, Russia might be doing more business with Iran even if it’s an energy rival.

  5. Looks like as much as Obama tried the US has missed the boat on trying to have any influence in the Far East.

    • Not really Obama’s fault.

      After WW2, the USA could have just let the old empires die and be friends with the new nations, BUT instead the USA decided to try to take over the dying empires.

      Now, even if the USA vastly changed it behavior the nations that have had to fight so hard to throw off the empires, will not trust the USA for a long time. BUT a MAJOR problem is there are many delusional voices in the USA that refuse to change the USA behavior.

      In a rational world, the USA would throw Saudi Arabia and Israel overboard with a giant anchor tied to them, but USA delusion about the past prevents this, so the USA will continue down he rotten path regardless who the next president is.

      Delusional inertia is hard to overcome.

  6. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran this weekend, pledging new bilateral of $600 bn. Over 10 years.

    In Iranian eyes, how would that $600bn Chinese offer appear when stacked against more sanctions from the US?

    • What the USA does is meaningless.

      USA has had sanctions on Iran since 1979 out of pure mean spite because Iranians threw the USA’s puppet out. Those sanctions did make life difficult, BUT even with USA sanctions, Iran was able to modernize.

      It could even be said that the sanctions caused Iran to completely re-think modern warfare and helped them develop more fiscally efficient defense systems.

      The ONLY reason Iran finally came to the negotiating table is the sanctions that Russia, China and the EU put in place and NOW those sanctions are pretty much gone and will probably never return no matter what the USA does.

      Over time, global power CONSTANTLY shifts, so over time the USA will become less and less powerful as it eats itself from inside (as Lincoln pointed out). Except for a short 200 year period, China was a regional powerhouse for over 5000 years, so after making the necessary transitions (thanks to massive knowledge infusions from the “west”), China is now once again a very powerful nation and with that increase in power, USA power decreases.

      The bottom line is, USA sanctions only hurt one nation – USA. BUT they give most of the other 200 or so nations on earth an opportunity to successfully trade with Iran.

      The USA is basically shooting itself in the foot (with a shot gun) because of an overblown ego and with all ego driven hubris, the USA will fail and will be unable to understand why.

      Like all humans, Iranians respond very well to friendship and avoid those that irrationally hate them, so the USA will eventually regret its immaturity and hubris while the non-USA part of the globe prospers.

  7. I don’t think history will be kind to the 2001 – 2016 Bush 2/Obama era.

    Arrogant, militarized xenophobia squandered our ‘soft’ power and fostered a formidable counter-bloc made up of Russia-China-Iran.

  8. China gets a trading partner with trillions of dollars worth of oil and gas and ready market for their goods. We get Israel who is demanding we up their welfare check to $5 billion a year.

  9. I’m annoyed that China even waited for the US to drop its stupid sanctions. It should have gone in to both Iran and Cuba years ago, suitcases full of gold. But Beijing sees that moving slowly prevents the US from losing face over its hegemonic decline and doing something wacky that causes a global trade war. You know, like electing Donald Trump.

    • Chinese culture stresses playing the “long game.”

      Why confront the USA directly when, if China is patient, China can quietly subvert USA power, until the USA eventually wakes up one day to discover that it has very little power and the USA starts to eat itself alive trying to find some one to blame without admitting their own terrible behavior caused the decline.

      Why waste your own resources to directly fight an opponent, when you can subtly cause your opponent to waste all their resources destroying themselves?

      China very selectively pokes the USA ego and the USA over-reacts using tremendous resources to essentially commit suicide.

      Americans immaturely want results immediately, whereas the Chinese culture tends to be far more patient. Sort of the difference between a child and an adult.

      Over the last 5000 years, Chinese leadership has made every bad mistake humans can make, but now they seem to have learned from many of those mistakes and function on a more mature level.

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