Raisi's visit to Beijing expected to deepen China-Iran relations, consolidate traditional friendship
Published: Feb 12, 2023 08:49 PM
China Iran photo:VCG

China Iran photo:VCG

At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will pay a state visit to China from Tuesday to Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying announced on Sunday. 

Analysts said that Raisi's first visit to China since taking office in 2021 will further implement the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Iran, and shows the Raisi administration's unswerving determination to promote the "Look to the East" policy.

Iran's "Look to the East" policy meant the transition from its policy of negative balancing and non-alignment to building alliances with non-western world powers that have similar political structures to Iran, such as Russia and China. 

According to IRNA, the official news agency of Iran, delegations from both sides are due to sign "cooperation documents." Raisi will also take part in meetings with Chinese businessmen and Iranians living in China.

China is Iran's largest trade partner, IRNA said, citing 10-month statistics from Iranian customs authorities. Iran's exports to Beijing stood at $12.6 billion, while it imported $12.7 billion worth of goods from China.

The top priority of Raisi's visit this time should be to further and develop China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership and push forward the 25-year cooperation agreement and further implement it, Tang Zhichao, a Middle East analyst at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Iran and China have strong economic ties, especially in the fields of energy, transit, agriculture, trade and investment. In 2021, both countries signed a 25-year strategic cooperation pact said to include "political, strategic and economic" components.

When Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua met with Raisi in Iranian capital Tehran in December 2022, Raisi stressed that no matter how the international and regional landscapes change, Iran will remain firmly committed to deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

The two sides have set goals in several high-level exchanges, but the progress in recent years has been delayed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in the surrounding environment. The key point of Raisi's visit is to push forward the process, because it is beneficial to the people of both sides, Tang stressed.

Experts also said that China and Iran have many international issues of common concern, including Afghanistan, regional stability and development, climate change, regional security, energy security and others, which need to be discussed.

This visit can be seen as a very important upgrade in China-Iran relations, Zhu Yongbiao, executive director of the Research Center for the Belt and Road at Lanzhou University, told the Global Times.

"Cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will give China and Iran more space for cooperation. It is foreseeable that after this meeting, China-Iran relations will enter a new and higher stage," Zhu said.