The China-Iran 25-Year Cooperation Agreement Needs a Sober Assessment

Author : Jacopo Scita

In the last few weeks, the news of a 25-year comprehensive strategic agreement secretly signed by the Iranian government with its Chinese counterpart has gained an exaggerate attention from international media and some prominent political figures both within and outside Iran. The deal inflamed the debate because of its supposed secrecy and the nature of the concessions Iran was going to make to China, which allegedly ranged from the transfer of some islands in the Persian Gulf to rumours of about up to 5000 Chinese military personnel to be stationed in Iran.

Contrary to the words of the former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was the first to denounce the secrecy of the agreement, the negotiation process began in 2016 and continued through the years, with several public exchanges between top-level Iranian and Chinese authorities. Furthermore, the final draft of the cooperation document, which has circulated since last week, does not mention the transfer of Kish or other islands to China, nor any Chinese military presence in the country.

Besides calling for various infrastructural projects and multilateral initiatives in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the 18-pages document frames a partnership that aims to be strategic as much as comprehensive. China and Iran will deepen their cooperation in key areas such as telecommunication and software development, as well as encouraging Chinese investment in the Iranian special economic zones and coastal areas. The agreement recognises Beijing as a regular and preferred customer of Iran’s oil, suggesting the possibility of substantial discounts. Furthermore, it touches military and defence cooperation, mentioning the creation of a joint commission for military industries, exchange of knowledge, joint projects and drills, and counterterrorism collaboration. Certainly, it is an ambitious agreement which, however, lacks the details and the implementation tools that are typical of a binding contract.

تاریخ انتشار اولیه:۲۵ تیر ۱۳۹۹
تاریخ رصد: ۳۱ تیر ۱۳۹۹


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