China-Iran 25-year deal not aimed at any country: Iranian envoy
Bilateral road map
Published: Apr 15, 2021 08:23 PM
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pose for a photo after signing a 25-year agreement in Tehran, Iran on March 27. Photo: AFP

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pose for a photo after signing a 25-year agreement in Tehran, Iran on March 27. Photo: AFP

Iranian Ambassador to China, Mohammad Keshavarzzadeh Photo: Li Hao/GT

Iranian Ambassador to China, Mohammad Keshavarzzadeh Photo: Li Hao/GT

Editor's Note:

China and Iran recently signed a major 25-year agreement to enhance comprehensive cooperation in a range of fields including trade. After the signing of the agreement, some Western media outlets tried to depict the agreement negatively. Some claimed that this agreement met with backlash in Iran. What is the actual situation? Will the agreement implementation be influenced by US sanctions? How does Iran evaluate its cooperation with China? Global Times reporter Xie Wenting (GT) talked with Iranian Ambassador to China, Mohammad Keshavarzzadeh (Keshavarzzadeh), on these issues.

GT: Some Western media outlets claimed that the deal between Iran and China created a backlash in Iran as many Iranians think the deal is selling off Iran to China. As they claimed, Iran makes too many compromises, such as selling crude oil at a heavily discounted price. What's your reaction to this?

Keshavarzzadeh: Western countries still have the leverage to extend their colonial domination through the "media." They publish false and manipulative information through social networks and mass media in order to prevent friendly cooperation between Iran and China. Iran and China have had friendly and peaceful relations for centuries and have never been at war with each other. Historically, the two countries have enjoyed peaceful trade and cultural exchanges through the ancient Silk Road, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) revived it once again.

China has never had a colonial record and has never tried to occupy another country. Western countries consider China, a rising world power, as a threat to their strategic dominance. They consider the establishment of a long-term strategic and friendly relationship between China and other independent countries like Iran a threat to their core interests in the region. They try to paint a bad image of China to frighten the people of other countries. When economic cooperation brings prosperity, well-being, and improves the livelihood of the local people, this poisonous and unrealistic propaganda of the West loses its effectiveness.

GT: It's reported that the signed document mentioned deepening military cooperation, calling for joint training and military exercises, joint research and weapons development as well as intelligence sharing. How will the two countries deepen military cooperation? Are there any concrete plans?

Iran and China are facing common threats like terrorism, extremism, separatism, organized crime, and drug trafficking which require consistent cooperation in critical regional and international issues, to tackle the above-mentioned challenges and promote peace and stability in the region, freedom of shipping and trade in international waters and so on. Achieving these goals requires more cooperation and connections between the security and military sectors of the two countries to exchange information and planning to exercise joint maneuvers. In this regard, close contact between the military, security, and defense departments is going on.

GT: Could you provide more details regarding projects, such as ports, 5G, and others, in the cooperation plan? 

The comprehensive 25-year cooperation plan between Iran and China was prepared in the implementation of the joint statement of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during Xi's official 2016 visit to Tehran. As its title shows, it has two characteristics: First, it includes all different aspects of cooperation between the two countries. And the second point is the period of cooperation that is a road map for a quarter of a century. Iran and China are two ancient Asian civilizations that have been connected for thousands of years. 

The goal of the plan is to deepen and strengthen these bilateral ties and it is not against any third country. 

Iran's landmark Azadi Tower, Tehran Photo: VCG

Iran's landmark Azadi Tower, Tehran Photo: VCG

GT: Will the sanctions imposed by the US on Iran affect the implementation of the deal? 

: Iran is not the only country in the world which is suffering from US sanctions. China and many other countries are also facing the same problem. As the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated several times, "the US wantonly wields sanctions like a big stick and arbitrarily imposes illegal unilateral sanctions on other sovereign states." It is necessary that illegal unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction be removed as soon as possible. The world witnessed that during the difficult period when combating COVID-19, the US's inhumane sanctions caused more loss of life in Iran. 

I believe that independent countries are determined to preserve their sovereignty and follow their own destinies to cooperate in order to improve people's lives. Even US officials confessed that the maximum pressure policy against Iran has failed. Iran and China both recognized these sanctions as interference in domestic affairs and a violation of international law; therefore we will not bow to these unlawful sanctions. 

GT: The US and some other Western countries have criticized China's policy in Xinjiang. The US, EU, the UK, and Canada also imposed sanctions on China over Xinjiang-related issues. What's your view? How do you evaluate China's policies in Xinjiang?

First of all, the US should remember that Xinjiang or Hong Kong is part of China. No country would tolerate interference in its own domestic affairs. The US should avoid meddling in other countries' affairs. Secondly, I believe that the West and the US are not in a position to accuse other countries of human rights violations when taking a look at their records. As Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian expressed on April 6, "US history has recorded the horrific systemic ethnic cleansing and slaughter of native Americans."

It is also worth mentioning that since 2001, the wars and military operations launched by the US in the name of fighting terrorism in about 80 countries have taken more than 800,000 lives, including 330,000 civilians, and has led to the displacement of tens of millions of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria among other countries. So if the US cares about Muslims' rights they owe a big apology to Muslim countries and they should stop killing Muslims by bombing their territories.     

Last week, I visited the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region together with diplomatic delegations from more than 20 countries. I found Xinjiang to be a very beautiful place. I witnessed how the Chinese central government's efforts have changed the local people's lives and brought welfare and development for the region. The goal of Western countries in fomenting Xinjiang issues is not benevolent, but purely political, and aimed at putting pressure on the Chinese government. The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly opposes these double standards from the West.

GT: This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). How do you evaluate the role the CPC has played in leading China? 

Over the past hundred years, China has become a major world power in all economic, political, and military dimensions. Accurate planning and concrete measures implemented by the central government, along with support from the public, is the most important factor in achieving these successes. 

China's model of governance, which has been able to achieve economic growth, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development in the fastest and the least costly manner, has become a global model. China's good governance model has challenged the stereotype of Western democracy which the West sought to prescribe liberal democracy as the only system of successful governance and forcefully imposed it on other countries. The Islamic Republic of Iran also has its own model of governance, and in spite of different kinds of conspiracy, terrorist acts, war, sanctions, and maximum pressure, can still play as an independent regional power, and has brought development and prosperity for the Iranian people during the last 40 years.

GT: How do you evaluate the significance of Iran-China cooperation in this increasingly polarized world? What role do you expect China to play in the Iran nuclear deal?

Iran's decision-making system is based on its own national interest and cannot be affected by pressures from the West. China now is a major world player and our officials have a consensus to enhance strategic comprehensive partnership with China. Iran has an outstanding geographical position in West Asia which can connect China to Europe. 

China has played a constructive role in Iran's nuclear issue. The two countries have a close exchange of views on this issue. China has criticized the US for violating the UN Security Council's resolutions by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) (known as the Iran nuclear deal). We expect JCPOA members and the international community to fulfill their commitments and obligations according to the resolutions.