Cars of the Iranian delegation are seen parked outside a building of the Diaoyutai state guesthouse as Iranian FM Javad Zarif meets Chinese FM Wang Yi in Beijing, May 13, 2018. (REUTERS)

July 11, 2020

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gholamreza Ansari has promised to publish the details of a controversial pact with China, amid a strong public outcry against concessions to Beijing.

The promise that was made on national TV Thursday night, came after massive negative reactions by the Iranian public and social media users to the idea of the pact that has been described as “the country’s sell out for 25 years.”

Iranians on social media say a protest gathering in front of the Chinese Embassy in Tehran has been scheduled for later on Friday. Demonstrations are also planned online to be held in front of Iranian embassies in various countries.

Ansari described the signing of the pact as a strategic measure that would guarantee the future of Iran’s economy.

Various reports from Tehran say that the pact is currently nothing more than proposals to China about purchasing Iran’s oil and helping Tehran to grow its problematic economy that has been badly damaged by U.S. sanctions. However, the same reports say it is unlikely that China would be able to ignore the U.S. sanctions.

The Rouhani administration announced last week that that it has approved the draft for the pact. Critics say that the proposal given to China will have no effect before the approval of the Chinese Communist Party.

In the meantime, neither Iran, nor China have revealed anything about the details of the pact.

Nevertheless, the news of the Comprehensive 25-Year Strategic Cooperation Plan has raised a lot of sensitivity among Iranians.

In one of the latest developments, former prominent lawmaker Ali Motahari tweeted on Friday that “regardless pf the content of the pact, the fate of two million Chinese Muslims in concentration camps in China must be determined as they are being tortured to give up their faith and culture and their mosques have been demolished.”

Meanwhile, other Twitter users quoted prominent reformist analyst Ahmad Zeidabadi as having said in an analysis that “the pact reveals Iran’s final decision for turning to East, but at the same time, it shows that Iran is returning to [pragmatic] rules of international politics after some 40 years.”

He added that “the strategic cooperation with China will change Iran’s policy in the region and will make it dependent on Beijing’s policies.” However, he continued that “What America has not been able to do with its maximum pressure policy, China is doing through a strategic cooperation plan.”

Meanwhile, Abbas Mousavi the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the opposition to the Sino-Iranian pact is propelled by some foreign countries.

In another development hardliner Iranian lawmaker Abdollah Ganji, the former editor of the IRGC’s newspaper Javan, wrote on Twitter, “the critics have not read the text of the pact and that the reason they do not like it is that it has made U.S. sanctions ineffective,” but did not explain how.

Using the same argument, Ansari said in his interview with the Iranian state TV that “It is natural to see concern among Western countries about Iran’s ties with China.”

Meanwhile, several Iranian lawmakers including Morteza Aghatehrani of the ultraconservative Paydari Front have said that Parliament will make sure the Contract with China will not be as problematic as Iran’s nuclear pact with the world powers.

Rouhani administration officials on the other hand have labelled the pact’s critics as “enemies”.

Ansari, as well as the secretariat of the Iranian Free Trade Zones have rejected critics statements about handing over the Kish Island to China for 25 years.

Ansari, who supported the pact on TV, said China is currently the only country that purchases oil from Iran and its trade transaction with Iran in 2019 amounted to $24 billion at the peak of U.S. sanctions against Iran. He failed to mention that China has greatly reduced its oil purchases from Iran. But experts believe Iran cannot rely on business with China amid U.S. sanctions.

China has imported more than one million ton of oil from Iran since the beginning of 2020 and that this marks a 90 percent decline in Beijing’s oil import from Tehran during the same period in the previous year.

Meanwhile, China’s non-oil imports from Iran in May 2020 has been a modest $370 million, which is the lowest figure during the past ten years.

RFE-RL

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.