Growing China-Iran Relations are Challenge to US Hegemony in Middle East

China and Iran are currently hammering out a new agreement that would be both economic and military in cooperation. The pending agreement would deal a significant blow to the US economic war against Iran, and greatly strengthen China’s influence in the Middle East. This is exactly what the United States is afraid of. For decades the US has carried out a strategic plan of domination throughout the region without any superpower resistance since the sabotage of the Soviet Union. The UK was in no place to challenge the US by that time and usually served as auxiliary support in matters.

The center of this agreement would be the security cooperation between the two countries. China would be investing billions in banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of other projects. What would China get in return? A heavily discounted oil supply from Iran for the next twenty-five years.

Now, with all these investments in Iran, China is going to want some kind guarantee of their safety against hostile US actions. For decades the US has placed a great effort on overthrowing the government there and replacing it with a US puppet regime. Continued efforts to do so would place Chinese investments in the firing line, something China is adamant about avoiding.

This would be accomplished by corresponding military cooperation. It will consist of joint training and exercises, as well as co-operation in research, weapons development, and intelligence gathering. Also, they intend to work together to combat “the lopsided battle with terrorism, drug and human trafficking and cross-border crimes.”

It was only in June that the agreement was made in principle by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet, but the agreement was first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, during a visit to Iran in 2016. The agreement is alleged to have already been finalized, but has not yet been sent to the Iranian parliament for approval, nor have the details been made public. It’s a move that makes some suspicious.

What is significant here is the potential for Iran to escape out from under the crushing pressure of US sanctions that have been harming the country since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Endless sanctions on the country’s banking sector, aviation, and medical sector have caused innumerable harm to the country – and that was before the COVID-19 outbreak that has ravaged Iran.

Sanctions were the best weapon the US had against the Iranian government. A military option was not a viable one considering the extensive effort and cost that would be involved in carrying out an invasion and following the occupation of Iran. There are some significant points to make here: Firstly, a war simulation against Iran was carried out in 2002 called the Millennium Challenge proved the US couldn’t win such a war. Secondly, Iranian missile technology has grown significantly since that war simulation. Third, a military-like tactic was already tried this year in the assassination of Qasam Soleimani. The retaliation from it did great damage to the US, injured over 100 US soldiers without the US retaliating.

Sabotaging the Iranian economy has been the key aspect of Washington’s war against Tehran. The damage is done, and continues to be done. Despite all the hardship Iran has managed to keep afloat and alter its economy the best it can to deal with the assault. Most disappointing has been the lack of support from the European signatories to the JCPOA who promised to help Iran if the US withdrew from the agreement.

A new expansive economic agreement with China would provide immensely needed relief for the US stranglehold on Iran. However, some have expressed concern over the agreement. The public, nor the parliament in Iran have any idea exactly what the provisions are. We should be aware that China is a capitalist state which seeks profits not solidarity with others for the sake international revolution. This has not been characteristic of their imperialist expansion into Africa. Many are concerned that China is acting as a predator, in this case, to take advantage of the struggling and wounded Iran. What choice does Iran have? They’re backed into a corner and choked by the US, it’s not like they’re going to the bargaining table on equal footing with China.

It seems likely to be the case that we’re not going to know the full context of the pending agreement until we see the provisions contained within it. It could very well be a tremendous boon to the Iranian economy and people, getting much-needed supplies and commodities into the country. Or it could be a Chinese imperialist expansion into the Middle East, an area that has been very difficult for China to break into. US alliances with regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and Israel have seen to that by all manner of means, mostly illegal.

The real question here is if Iran can trust China. That we won’t have an answer for, until the details of the agreement are made public.