Along with other top officials of his government, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi arrived in China this Tuesday aimed at boosting economic and bilateral ties.
In the early hours of this Tuesday, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Beijing to mark his first state visit to China. In his three-day trip, Raisi is heading a high-level delegation comprising ministers of oil, finance, transport, agriculture, industry and foreign affairs as well as the country’s top nuclear negotiator and the central bank governor.
Officials of the two countries are therefore expected to talk about a variety of issues, but as one Iranian spokesman said, trade is going to be on the top of the other fields.
Meeting with Iran’s president in Beijing, China’s president Xi Jinping praised Iran for being a all-time partner for China and said that “in the face of the current complex changes in the world, times, and history, China and Iran have supported each other (and) worked together in solidarity and cooperation.”
Ahead of his visit, Raisi also spoke of the unity between China and Iran in the face of their mutual enemy, the United States of America. In an editorial published in China’s People’s Daily, Raisi criticized Washington and noted that he believes unilateralism and “violent” measures such as the imposition of “unjust” sanctions are the main causes of crises and insecurity in the world.
Washington, a mutual enemy of China and Iran
Describing China as an “old friend,” Raisi said Iran’s efforts to strengthen bilateral relations with China would be unaffected by regional and international situations.
Both countries face pressure from Western nations, especially from the US, not only over their positions on Russia-Ukraine war, but their historical opposition to the US values and policies, not to mention Iran’s nuclear program which the US considers as illegal but in fact it isn’t.
The same Tuesday when Raisi arrived in China, Washington announced imposing new sanctions on Iranian companies it accused of playing a critical role in the production, sale and shipment of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum to buyers in Asia, including China.
A fruitful visit by Iran’s president
According to Iran’s state media, this same day Iran and China signed 20 memoranda of understanding on a diverse range of issues including trade, agriculture and information technology to health care, environment and tourism. It is also expected that Iran and China ink a key transport agreement worth $12 billion that allows Chinese investment in a high-speed rail line project connecting the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad to the capital Tehran.
Facing draconian international banking restrictions especially after the US illegal withdrawal of the Iran nuclear deal known as the JCPOA, Tehran has had a hard time selling out its crude, the lifeline to its ailing economy. This is one of the main reasons for the Islamic Republic to strengthen its “look towards the East” policy and in this line, sign a 25-year strategic partnership deal with China in 2021.
Despite the US sanctions, China still continues to buy oil from Iran, but exact volumes are kept under wraps. And Raisi’s Tuesday visit is hoped to increase trade volumes between the two countries, including Iran’s oil sales to China.