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25-year agreement ‘remarkable milestone’ in Iran-China ties, secures regional stability, says analyst

The national flags of Iran (L) and China (file photo)

The 25-year agreement signed between Iran and China last year is a “remarkable milestone” in the two countries’ relationship, a senior Chinese political analyst and researcher says, adding that the bilateral accord will boost the stability and prosperity of the West Asia region.

Yilun Zhang, a Research Associate and Administrative Officer at the Institute for China-America Studies, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Saturday after the Chinese and Iranian foreign ministers announced the implementation stage of the 25-year cooperation agreement.

“The beginning of the implementation of the 25-year agreement is a remarkable milestone of China-Iran cooperation; this is a defining moment since the two countries announced their comprehensive strategic partnership in 2016. Now with this new development, Beijing and Tehran can show countries in the region, and the rest of the world, that the partnership is not just about good wills, but also about actions,” Yilun said.

“With more tangible outcomes produced on various fronts under the framework of this agreement, China and Iran can show the world that they are serious about being responsible players in stabilizing and deepening prosperity in Asia,” he added.

Yilun said unilateral American sanctions and the grievances over them have been a driving factor in further pushing the cooperation between China and Iran.

“The direct effect of the implementation of the 25-year agreement is the resuming of Sino-Iranian energy cooperation. China has been one of the big buyers of Iranian oil before the US unilaterally imposed its sanctions on Iran and that will alleviate the situation,” the political analyst said.

“The significance to the agreement is in the long-run; a comprehensive 25-year long cooperation over infrastructure, technology, public health, fishery, and education, filmmaking, and human exchange could help Iran develop an economy that is not primarily dependent on energy export, which makes it more resilient to any potential US sanction in the future and the cooperation is almost certainly an important add-on to China's Belt and Road Initiative, which could bring more economic opportunity to Iran, which is a very critical country in the region,” he added.

Pointing to Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi’s recent visit to Moscow and how much of a risk China and Russia were prepared to take for Iran in the face of US sanctions, Yilun noted that there are shared grievances toward America's unilateral sanctions among the three allies. 

“The implementation of the 25-year agreement is a strategic consideration that shows Asian countries' willingness to stabilize and develop their own region. As the Americans pulled out of Afghanistan and left that part of the world destabilized. It is the countries from the region, including Russia, who have a strong interest in a stable central and west Asia, to act as responsible players to look after each other and their own region,” Yilun told Press TV.

“With or without the American sanctions, it is a must-do for responsible actors to take care of their own region. There is less of a risk-taking in this situation, but more of a responsible country showing their responsibility to repair what's being destabilized by an extraregional actor,” he added.

Asked whether he believed the implementation of the agreement would undermine the US and Israeli interests and status in the region, the analyst said, “The most important thing about this agreement is to stabilize the region and further develop this region.”

“I would not think that it hurts anyone's interest,” Yilun stressed. “I am not an expert on Israel so I could not talk too much on what Tel Aviv thinks. But on the US, its status is an extraregional country, and unless it seeks to profit from an unstable central-west Asia by unilaterally undermining the stability of the region. A better Middle East and Asia are supposed to serve everyone's interests and sustain everyone's status as it be.”

Last Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi signed final documents to announce the start of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries.

The deal allows China to commit to hundreds of billions of dollars in investment in various sectors of the Iranian economy. Iran, in return, will commit to providing China with a stable supply of energy over the next 25 years.

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