Toward new Sino-Iranian relations: common interests, mutual needs

By Mohsen Shariatinia & Ehsan Razani
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 23, 2016
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Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 21, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

President Xi Jinping's visit to Tehran can be seen as the starting point of a new phase in Sino-Iranian relations. The bilateral relationship is expected to be free from the pressure of the U.S. containment strategy and international sanctions. Thus, common interests and mutual needs could play a key role in the shaping of Sino-Iranian relations.

The two countries' needs and interests can be considered in terms of global, regional, and bilateral levels.

In the global scene, both Iran and China have constantly opposed any kind of hegemony and have called for a "multipolar" brand of international politics. They have always respected states' sovereignty and have had a rigid reluctance to interfere in other states' internal affairs. On the basis of such views, Tehran and Beijing see the Syrian crisis through the same lenses. Both are great nations that have constantly been moving toward a path of development. As a matter of fact, the two states' drive to attain development goals offers a fertile ground for cooperation, especially in international forums. Regarding the fact that the broad policy approaches of the two countries would perhaps represent a certain amount of continuity, both Iran and China would stress the aforementioned policies in the international arena.

In the regional scene, although Iran and China have pursued their own objectives as two independent nations, they have held quite similar stances on regional issues. Leaders in both countries consider the three evil forces of separatism, terrorism, and extremism as the main threats against their national security, and in a broader sphere, the peace and stability of Central Asia, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf can be seen as overlapping areas in the security environment of the two countries. All three regions experience different degrees of threat; understandably, opposing common threats in these regions would constitute the cornerstone of the Sino-Iranian security cooperation in the new era of relations between the two countries.

With the above facts in mind, one cannot say that Iran and China's mutual interests are only limited to opposing the threats. Strategic plans that have been presented by President Xi can create new horizons for cooperation between the two countries. Xi's initiatives concerning the creation of the Silk Road Economic Belt, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the new Asian Security Structure could enhance Sino-Iranian dialogues toward mutual interests. These initiatives could not only serve as a key strategy for developing intra-regional trade and strengthening regional integration in the security environment. Hence, Iran is one of those countries that have welcomed Xi's initiatives. As one of the founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Iran's economy in the post-sanction era will be thirsty for new investments. Without doubt, the launch of the AIIB would offer new horizons for further cooperation between the two countries in financial-economic fields.

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