Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s recent visit to China is a clear bet that China, along with Russia, will break Iran’s isolation and raises the question of the limits of the expected role of China, the world’s largest energy consumer. There is no doubt that China’s vision for Iran is not limited to the energy issue, although it is of great importance to Beijing.
It is also about China’s long-term strategic direction. In light of the war in Ukraine, the world is in the process of rewriting the rules of world order. Iran’s importance to China goes beyond trade, oil, etc.
Even though the two sides have different priorities, the two members of the Shanghai Organization are important to each other. Iran, for its part, is well aware of its growing strategic importance as part of China’s efforts to build a new world order in which it plays a key role.This was expressed in Raisi’s speech to professors at Peking University, in which he said, “The new world is gradually taking shape and the old order is slowly disappearing.” In an article published in the Chinese People’s Daily before his visit to Beijing, he pointed out that the two countries reject hegemony and unilateralism and emphasize respect for the rights and interests of all countries.
Some experts and specialists believe that for China and Russia, Iran is a third party in the so-called “iron triangle” aimed at undermining American hegemony over the world system politically, militarily and economically. Objectivity requires realizing that there is a difference between aspiration and reality.
For example, China’s total investment in Iran last year after signing a strategic cooperation agreement was only $165 million (NIS 597.6 m.). In exchange for access to needed energy resources, China’s investment in Iran under this agreement is expected to total $400 billion (NIS 1.5 trillion) over 25 years. Everyone knows how important energy security is to Beijing at this stage.
There are signs that China’s need for Iran will increase in the foreseeable future, especially given the growing likelihood of a military confrontation between China and the US, and China’s desire to return the island of Taiwan to its national sovereignty. This is a complex issue that suggests a repeat of the Ukraine scenario.China will need the support of other countries in the region, such as Iran, especially given Washington’s efforts to build a coalition of China’s neighbors in view of a possible conflict over Taiwan. Moreover, China, ready to play a central role in the post-Ukraine world, cannot refrain from forging strong alliances in such an important region as the Middle East.
Therefore, it considers Iran from a long-term strategic perspective. At the same time, China does not want this relationship to hinder its growing strategic partnership with the rest of the Middle East, especially with the Gulf states and Israel.Network of relations
THEREFORE, IT seeks to compartmentalize and work in parallel in a network of conciliatory relations based on the approach of non-interference in the affairs of other countries and ensuring the sovereignty of states.
China manages relations in the Middle East on the basis of avoiding conflicts with the policies and roles of the US in particular and the West in general, avoiding the influence of disagreements and tensions between countries in the region and turning away from these disagreements.
But will this policy succeed in breaking Iran’s international isolation? Answering this question must include the limits of China’s role in reviving the nuclear negotiations as the key to lifting Western sanctions on Iran.
Detente between Tehran and Western capitals is not in Beijing’s interest, especially since there are indications that the majority of Iran’s elite and population are pro-Western.
Therefore, any breakthrough in Iran-US relations, especially in the midst of the raging struggle for leadership of the world order, would run counter to plans for strategic cooperation with Beijing. China is therefore unlikely to play an influential role in convincing the West to return to the table with Iran to discuss resuming the nuclear deal.
China has not done so in recent years when negotiations have stalled for various reasons but Europe has played that role. Given the strained relations between China and Western capitals, China is not in a position to mediate between Tehran and these capitals. China is also not interested in resolving the dispute over the nuclear deal for the reasons mentioned above.
At present, China’s room for maneuvering to break Iran’s international isolation is clearly limited. But the facts confirm that China is approaching Iran with relative caution. Beijing once fully cooperated with US sanctions against Tehran but does not now.
Rather, it is gaining new opportunities to act at the expense of US restrictions. Not only to meet its energy needs but also to demonstrate its new ability to challenge US influence, it is buying Iranian oil in defiance of US sanctions.
Washington itself, however, has no choice but to acquiesce to China’s moves, whether to avoid conflict or to play its cards and pursue American interests, especially the control of oil prices, even with the smuggling of Iranian oil on America’s watch.
One more important point is the growing Chinese support for Iran in the technical field. More trade, economic and industrial exchanges will enable Iran to challenge the West more boldly and seek a broader and more active regional and international role, reflecting the breakdown of Western-imposed isolation.
This may in-turn have adverse effects on the strategic interests of the Gulf and Arab states.
Source » jpost