Has Iran been ditched by China?

Has Iran been ditched by China?


Has Iran been ditched by China?

Xi Jinping’s, President of China, visited Saudi Arabia from December 7-10, 2022, where he held a series of meetings. A joint statement was issued after a meeting of China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held on December 9. The joint statement referred to Iran as a supporter of regional terrorist groups and a proliferator of ballistic missiles and drones. More damagingly, the statement noted the importance of addressing “the Iranian nuclear file and destabilising regional activities”.

This has left the Iranian establishment wondering whether China is changing its attitude towards the region, especially in the wake of reduced American presence. Iran now feels that it has been ditched by China. The Iranian foreign ministry recently called in the Chinese Ambassador in Tehran to express its discontent over the Statement.

Tehran is now also worried about China’s recent embrace of Saudi Arabia and other GCC nations as Iran believed that China had taken a neutral stand in Iran’s rivalry with Saudi Arabia in the Gulf region.

Though Iran is disappointed by Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the country cannot afford to damage its relationship with China due to economic reasons as China till 2022, was the largest importer of Iranian oil and both countries signed a 25-year roadmap to enhance economic cooperation.

Geo Politik recently reported that Iran is also concerned about the slow pace of investments that China had committed when it signed a 25-year cooperation agreement with Iran last year. In response to China’s decision to seek closer ties with Saudi Arabia, a political advisor to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that Iran had stood up against plots by Saudi Arabia and the US nearly a decade ago when they intended to destabilize the countries in the region.

As per the news report, China’s biggest energy supplier is Saudi Arabia and Beijing is making efforts to have a long-term relationship with Riyadh to address its energy needs. Senior political analyst Sabah Zanganeh said that the Chinese government wants to ensure that it has a stable energy provider.

Zanganeh who has served as a lawmaker, a deputy culture minister, and Iran’s ambassador to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) stressed that China addressed its energy needs through purchases from Iran, according to the Geo Politik report. However, the energy sources which are being explored by China are subject to many problems, including sanctions by the United States.

According to Zanganeh, Iran’s problem is that it has restricted itself to a handful of nations. After Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the Chinese President and leaders of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued a statement that included three articles with “hostile rhetoric” against Iran.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have differences over the ownership of three islands – Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa. Iran has governed the three islands since 1971. However, United Arab Emirates also has claims over the three islands. Iran has maintained that the islands are “inseparable parts of Iran’s pure soil.”