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China-Iran relations likely to see an upgrade


Source: Global Times    Published: 2018-6-5

China will support Iran to save the 2015 nuclear pact to protect regional stability and safeguard the integrity of international law, Chinese analysts stressed on Tuesday ahead of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani`s upcoming visit to China.

Rouhani will arrive in Qingdao, East China`s Shandong Province on Friday for the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit, the Iranian Embassy in China confirmed with the Global Times on Tuesday.

Leaders of SCO member states, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, will also attend the summit scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Rouhani`s visit will see Iran`s comprehensive strategic partnership with China upgraded to a new level, Hua Liming, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Cooperation on energy, infrastructure, and issues of common concern, such as how to handle international pressure after the US pulled out from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal last month, are likely on the agenda of the Iranian president`s meeting with Chinese leaders, Hua noted.

According to the official website of the Iranian president, President Rouhani will have meetings with his counterpart Chinese President Xi Jinping and will be accompanied by a delegation of high-ranking officials and business leaders.

After the US declared on May 8 that it would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran said it would continue to honor the deal as long as the other five powers remain committed to it.

"Unlike the US, China will not break its promise and will ensure that China-Iran relations won`t be affected," Hua stressed.

China will stand with the European Union to firmly uphold the authority of the JCPOA, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying reiterated at a press conference on Monday.

Rouhani`s visit, which marks his first trip to a foreign country since the US pullout, shows Iran attaches great importance to China`s role in keeping the deal intact and preventing Iran`s economy from being seriously impacted by US-led sanctions, Tian Wenlin, a research fellow on Middle Eastern studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Iran expects strong support from China, and sees the Western world as wavering and unreliable, said Tian, adding that China will ensure the nuclear deal remains intact to help promote peace and stability in the Middle East and safeguard the integrity of international laws.

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Considering Iran`s strategic location along the Belt and Road route, improving Iran`s role in the China-proposed initiative will also be high on the agenda, said Hua Liming.

Iran could set a positive example in the Middle East by implementing projects under the Belt and Road initiative, said Tian.

In 2017, China and Iran agreed to carry out greater cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative during a meeting of foreign ministers of the two countries at the ancient civilizations forum in Athens, Greece.

Iran is also a significant source of China`s energy security and diversity, and the situation should not be changed due to US sanctions against Iran, Tian noted.

China remains Iran`s top trading partner, the Tehran-based Financial Tribune reported in April, quoting customs data.

Iran exported 34.89 million tons of commodities worth $9.06 billion to China last year, up 8.31 percent year-on-year, said the report.

Apart from oil, major Iranian exports to China were methanol, iron ore, ethylene glycol, liquefied propane and gas condensate.

Hua Liming is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

Key Words: China   Iran   relation   Hua Liming  

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