China’s Relationship Towards Iran


China and Iran have since time immemorial continued to enjoy close relationships (Calabrese, 2006). The cooperation between the two countries is until today unmatched (Chinas daily , 2009). Profound Evidence reveals that the two nations have cooperated in all aspects from economic facets (international trade and foreign direct investments), energy security, political ongoings, as well as the social-cultural matters (MOJ news, Chinas daily, china business, 2009).

According to the latter, China and Iranian governments under the leadership of President Hu Jintao and Ahmenidjad respectively have until today displayed willingness and commitment to maintaining this good relationship which according to them yields mutual benefits to the two countries. China does not seem to have the intention to backtrack on its intentions of forging ahead with the good relationship with Iran, irrespective of this threatening to spoil its relationship with West Europe, and the United States of America. In particular, China has differed with the United States and Russia over the approach in dealing with Iran’s nuclear weapons crises (Brnzezinski, 2007). This paper, therefore, diagnoses Chinas relationship with Iran and advice the Chinese government under the leadership of President Hu Jintao on the importance of this relationship to china as a whole.

Since the onset of the 21st century, China has come out strongly as a developed economy. It commands its economic power not only in the ASEAN region but also in the world as a whole. According to the Chinese prime minister, the excelling of China’s economy is largely attributed to the good relationship that china continues to maintain with other countries especially Middle East countries (Brnzezinski, 2004). China has risen to be an economic powerhouse. According to the latter, China has been rated as the fastest-growing world economy registering an average annual growth rate of more than 9% since 1996 to date. As a result, it has been ranked as the fourth-largest economy.

China’s economic growth and strength have made the Asian country have a strong impact both in the region (ASEAN) as well as in the international platforms, in terms of international trades, foreign direct investments, and influence on both regional and worldwide policies and affairs (Mikkal, 2006). The China government is dedicated to maintaining the excellent path that its economy is taking. President Jintao’s administration recognizes that this is going to be achieved on a silver plate. Indeed it continues to recognize the important role that the regional and the international community has and continues to play in the Chinese economic well-being. More importantly, the government of China has set its top priority as to maintain the country’s status quo and maintain the tempo in its economic growth and development (China Prime Minister qtd. in China’s daily march 16th 2009).

From the available evidence, one can conclude that China has related well with Iran than any other Middle East country. Its programs are so much entrenched into Iranian economic systems that breaking the relationship at this moment will have far-reaching negative effects on the economy of both countries. Chinas economy is many miles ahead of Iran. However, China’s government must realize that Iran’s contribution to China’s economic well-being is not in any way mean (Brnzezinski, 2004). To some extent, China’s current president Hu Jintao recognizes this. This is particularly manifested in the way China has opted to deal with the current and controversial Iran nuclear issue. Jintao’s administration’s stands that diplomacy is the best way out to solve the crises is highly commendable. Indeed it is willing to defend Iran from those who want to use force on it at all costs.

It is advisable that China’s government be consistent and determined in this since it has a massive insurable interest in the Middle East country and thus the stability of the country has a direct effect on China’s social and economic well-being. Despite her great influence in the international arena, China has opted to play its politics from a local perspective and solve the problems in a much diplomatic way which the government of the day believes favors China. Being humble and using diplomacy to solve international affairs is the best strategy that Jintao’s administration can adopt. Instead of wasting much time meddling with other countries’ internal affairs, the China government considers dedicating its time and resources to settling the country’s problems that arise from the rapidly growing economy (coming up with policies and strategies that support this growth) and relating with countries that serve this interest. From this paper’s point of view, Iran tops the list and I advise the Chinese leader to consider coming with modern and effective policies to enhance this relationship.

Chinas relationship towards Iran (energy reliance perspective)

Energy forms the basics bond between China and Iran and it is indeed one of the main factors that have shaped the relationship that exists between the two Asian countries to date. Although this relationship started back in the 19th century it becomes enhanced as time goes by. President Jintao’ understands well that Iran is a major source of much-needed energy to support the rapidly growing China’s economy. Whether this is seen as opportunistic or not, it serves the very purpose of providing China with much-needed energy security.

China for instance is nowhere near energy self-sufficiency (Hongyi, 2007). According to Mikkal (2004), the emergence of China as the world’s economic powerhouse and its rapid economy has made her the second-largest energy consumer in the world from the United States of America. With its soaring economy and is stagnated energy sources, China heavily relies on the importation of energy mainly crude oil and gases from the middle east and Africa of which Iran is a key source among Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Angola (MP & Radtke, 2005). This fact partly explains the continued close relationship between China and Iran over the years which continues to be enhanced every other day. For instance, China has opposed the US war against Iran on the basis that the war would destroy its greatest source of fuel (Kenneth, 2007, Hongyi, 2007).

In the first two months of 2009 for instance, China imported crude oil worth $ 7.53 billion according to China’s customs. Most of this crude oil was imported from three countries mainly, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Angola of which Iran was second in terms of the contributions to the oil imports. In the report, Iran single-handedly contributed 4.03 million tons out of 24.55 million tons of crude oil imported by China over time a fact that depicts the extent to which China relies on Iran for energy security as very significant. In 2008 alone, Iran’s export in value of oil and petrochemical products was $19.599 billion.

An interesting depiction of the relationship between China and Iran has been shown in the recent opening of NIOC’s office in Beijing China. According to the NIOC director of internal affairs Ali Asghar Arshi who attended its inauguration ceremony on Tuesday 7th March 2009, the NIOC office in China is expected to effectively increase the bilateral cooperation between China and Iran in the energy-related sectors and greatly boost the oil trade between the two countries. The cooperation between China and Iran to develop the Yadavaran oil fields in western Iran is a by-product of the good relationship and ever-increasing economic ties between the two countries. In 2008 for instance, NIOC and Sinopec entered into a two million US dollars agreement to develop Iranian oil fields (Yadavaran) whose size is approximately180000bpd. The move to open up an office in Beijing (China) and the cooperation to jointly develop the Iranian oil fields is hailed as being strategic especially following the fact that China is the major market of the Iran oil and related products. In addition, China and Iran recently (January 2009) entered into an LNG agreement worth 3.2 million US dollars. In a 36 months contract, the managing director of the Iran LNG and the manager of the Chinese consortium and in the presence of the NIOC manager which allows the Chinese consortium to run the production lines 3&4 that are charged with the responsibility of liquefying gas at phase 12 and south par gas. This move is estimated to raise the annual production capacity of the Iran LNG to 10.5 million tons [Xinhua Economic News Service (April 17, 2009)].

In December 2008, Iran exported to China oil amounting to 2.12 million tons (502,782 b/d) representing close to 50% from November. In January 2009, Guangdong (a sea south of China) imported a total of 1.297 million tons in amounts of crude oil all of which came from Iran under the general trade rules) a value that went above the 2008 average by 250000 tons. More so the two countries are reported to have entered into a pact worth 1.76 US dollars in January 2009, which will see China, explore an Oil field in western Iran. Currently, over 13% of China’s oil imports originate from Iran. China’s great reliance on Iran in terms of energy and related products supply is one of the fundamental determinants of the glamorous relationship that continues to exist between the two countries [Business China March 16th, 2009].

Evidence of Rapport between China and Iran

In a recent meeting between China’s prime minister and the Iranian vice president (Purvis Davoodi) in Hainan on 17th April 2000, the two governments reiterated their intentions to enhance the good relationship that the two countries have continued to enjoy and forge ahead with the cooperation between China and Iran for mutual benefits. In the meeting, Wen Jiabao asserted that the enhancement of friendship and cooperation between China and Iran will be favorable for the basic interests of the two countries as well as fundamental for the achievement of global peace and development. In line with the same, Jiabao said that China will continue respecting the Iranian controversial nuclear program for the sake of peace and advocated for a peaceful resolution of the problem in a way that allowed a stage for negotiations [Xinhua Economic News Service (April 17, 2009].

In addition, the two parties talked of the current world financial crises and contended that it harmed the world’s economic and political atmosphere and expressed China’s willingness to take advantage of the good relationship she has with Iran to join hands in facing the challenges of the crisis. He said that China was indeed willing to extend its high-level contacts and exchanges with Iran in all aspects as well as boost its coordination and cooperation with the country for the common good of the two countries [Xinhua Economic News Service (April 17, 2009]. Wen also reiterated the need for the two countries to continue enhancing their energy relationship, steadily exploring their financial prospective, and continuously reviewing their cooperation for enhanced mutual benefits between China and Iran [MOJ news china, March 16th, 2009].

The position of China on the Iranian nuclear program is a risk in its way. For instance, it is a threat to the already fragile relationship between China and the United States (Kenneth, 2008). Although many would have thought that the relationship would improve with the election of Obama to the white house, all signs even after the inauguration suggests a different picture altogether. 0n Tuesday the 7th of April 2009, the United States treasury enacted sanctions on LIMMT economic and trade company of China together with six Iranian companies banning them from doing business in the country on allegations that they had a hand in the controversial Iran nuclear project claiming that the firms were collaborating on a scheme to transfer nuclear technology from China to Iran, and ordering that their assets be frozen. In a regular statement briefing, China’s foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu, reported that China was strongly opposed to the move to sanctions and termed it as undue and illegal [china’s daily April 16th, 2009]. However, it would be a misplaced idea for China to backtrack on its decision to defend Iran for peace in the country. The country should stand its ground, ignore the criticisms and defend Iran, enhance the relationship since it’s in all ways beneficial to China.

China and Iran have continued to enjoy very close bilateral trade relations over the years. From January 2008 to January 2009 the total transactions in terms of bilateral trade between China and Iran stood at a massive 1,489,651,000 US dollars, going by the report released by the Chinese general administration of customs which represented a 39.8% from 2008. In 2008, the China-Iran annual trade was 27.623 US dollars. In addition to the bilateral trade, all evidence depicts a booming foreign direct investment relationship between Iran and China further solidifying the already strong association and collaboration between the two countries. The bilateral relationship between China and Iran has been on an increase since 1971. While addressing the public in a colloquium staged on Iran- China cooperation in the construction sector, the Chinese envoy to Iran recognized the good relationship that the two countries have had over the years and enumerated a host of benefits that they have reaped from their relationship [Business China March 15th, 2009]. Jiabao cited the possibility of using the favorable bilateral trade relationship between China and Iran to use Chinese state of the art technology and the Iranian conventional architectural norms to enhance economic development and growth for both countries and enhance the already good and effective investments in the construction sector.

In March 2009, the Iranian housing and urban development minister Mohammad Saeedi-kia announced a plan of forming a joint venture with China and to use modern technology to bring ultimate efficiency and sustainable development in the housing sector a further show of the Iranian government continued willingness in enhancing its cooperation with China especially in the wake of the financial crises. Indeed, Iran sees China as the most forthcoming party to cooperate with in order to mitigate the effects of the crises. According to the minister, the new development is expected to take the bilateral cooperation between the two countries to a new height especially in areas of planning, leeway for urban development, modern building technology for high attitude building, and effective ways of acquiring the needed funding [Business China, March 11, 2009].

China and Iran have continued to cooperate not only in economic matters but also in issues of art and cultural heritage between the two countries. While meeting the Chinese art officials, the Iranian deputy head of Iran’s Academy of art called on the need for enhanced cooperation between the two countries, citing the significance that such a relationship had on the development of the two countries’ art and cultural sector. He said that the field of art between the two countries would be more successful if cooperation was enhanced. He noted that the sector had deteriorated since the art ties between Iran and China were cut and expressed optimism that the signing of the memorandum of association between the deputies of academies of art in China and Iran would achieve so much in regards to art cooperation and enhance the relationship.

Liu Yunshan a member of the communist party of China central committee political bureau while meeting with the Iranian first vice president of 23 march 2008 spoke of the importance of the traditional friendship that the two countries had continued to enjoy noting that both the Chinese government and the people of China have always treasured the good relationship between the two countries. They noted that the ties between the two countries had continued to strengthen with achievement made particularly in taking the trade relationship between China and Iran to new heights, development in China-Iran cultural exchange, and political cooperation, which have had significant benefits to the two countries. The cultural exchange between the two countries will enable the people to understand each other more and perhaps generate cooperation in other fields as well among the citizens of the two countries.


China’s relationship with Iran has been magnificent all years. In fact, China has so much interest in Iran that a turnaround in this relationship will be suicidal for its economy. China exploits this close bond for its energy security and a sure market for its finished products. More so China has continued to nurture its relationship with China as part of its social responsibility. In addition, the two countries are so much entrenched in each other both socially economically, and socially that it would have far-reaching negative effects if the bond was to break. The relationship between the two countries is of strategic importance for both countries. China’s economy in particular largely relies on this relationship. It is advisable therefore for president Jintao to come up with up-to-date strategies of enhancing this relationship and invest more to make it grow to bring forth more benefits to China as well as Iran.

Work Cited

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