China and Iran have hammered a nail in the coffin of US hegemony in Western Asia
Iranian and Chinese Foreign Ministers Javad Zarif and Wang Yi signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement on March 27, 2021, stipulating $400 billion of Chinese investment in Iran over 25 years in exchange for heavily discounted supplies of Iranian oil. With such wording, this news was reported by the American newspaper The New York Times.
China's investments are expected to be directed to dozens of areas, including banking, telecommunications, ports, railways, healthcare, and information technology. This document also provides for the deepening of military cooperation, including joint training and exercises, joint research and development of weapons, as well as the exchange of intelligence information.
The road to signing the agreement between Tehran and Beijing took about five years. The proposal for a strategic-level partnership was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time in 2016 during his visit to Iran.
In 2015, the so-called nuclear deal with Iran, officially called the "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" (JCPOA), was concluded: in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, Tehran refused to enrich uranium and create nuclear weapons, and received the right to develop nuclear energy. The JCPOA was signed by Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, the United States, China, Britain and France), as well as Germany.
Against the backdrop of the lifting of economic sanctions and the beginning of Western investment, Tehran was in no hurry to work out an agreement with Beijing. However, in August 2018, US President Donald Trump issued a decree on the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the nuclear deal, and the period of resumption of sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran by Washington began. Tehran's attitude to the agreement with Beijing has changed in favour of speeding up its conclusion.
Donald Trump also strained relations with China and started a trade war. Accordingly, here Beijing started to be cautious about the strategic partnership with Tehran, so as not to add another irritating reason. On January 20, 2021, Donald Trump ceded the post of president to Joe Biden, with whose victory the Chinese leadership attributed the warming of relations, but the new administration retained the anti-Chinese vector of foreign policy.
The dots above the "I" in US-Chinese relations were added during the negotiations in Anchorage (Alaska) on March 18-19, 2021. The US delegation criticised the foreign and domestic policy of the People's Republic of China, but received a strong rebuff. The Chinese, in fact, rejected the ultimatum in the form of recognition of the liberal world order under the dominant role of the United States.
Then, on March 25, during his first press conference as US President, Joe Biden said that he would not allow China to become the most powerful country in the world.
A week after the Anchorage talks, one day after Biden's announcement, and on March 27, 2021, China and Iran signed a $400 billion, 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement that fundamentally changes the situation in relation to Iran.
It should be noted that Tehran has a significant missile potential, and the entire significant military infrastructure of the United States and its allies in the Middle East, including all of Israel, is located within the range of its missiles. Iran's missile capabilities are a serious argument against the open armed aggression of Washington and its satellites. A retaliatory Iranian strike on enemy bases and surface ships is guaranteed to lead to serious losses in manpower and equipment.
Therefore, a strategy of attrition and suffocation was chosen against Tehran through tough sanctions, leading to a decrease in the country's military and economic potential. The difficulties in the economy would eventually cause discontent among the population and lead to the destabilisation of the situation inside Iran. It would only be necessary to provide external assistance to overthrow the current government.
However, Tehran's signing of a comprehensive cooperation agreement with Beijing breaks the scenario of Iran's strangulation, weakens the country's international isolation, and reduces the effectiveness of US economic sanctions. Iran received a guaranteed export of its oil for 25 years in exchange for Chinese investment of $400 billion in dozens of areas of domestic life.
We must also take into account the plans for military cooperation between the two countries, which will eventually lead to an increase in the combat potential of the Iranian Armed Forces and the strengthening of China's geopolitical influence.
Beijing may eventually deploy its naval bases on the Iranian coast to control the international waterway - the Strait of Hormuz, through which up to 20% of the world's oil is transported. This will be a strong argument from China in case the United States and its allies try to arrange a blockade in the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca, which is the main route for the transportation of goods and cargo from Asia to Europe.
The comprehensive cooperation agreement has provided a major trump card for Tehran ahead of potential talks with the US to renew the nuclear deal. The stakes in this game have increased since March 27. Now there is no need for Iran to make unilateral concessions in exchange for vague promises to lift economic sanctions.
American journalist, writer and cinematographer Ben Norton on Twitter called the agreement between Iran and China the nail in the coffin that ended the US hegemony in Western Asia.
Thus, after the signing of the comprehensive cooperation agreement between Beijing and Tehran, a new strategic reality has emerged, and it is clearly not in favour of the United States and its allies.