Editorial Analysis by Manuel Chen-Cruz
China’s President Xi Jinping recently expressed his support for the Islamic Republic of Iran in safeguarding its rights and interests related to the Iran nuclear issue. During talks with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi in Beijing, Xi called for the early and proper resolution of the issue and emphasized that China will continue to participate constructively in talks to resume negotiations on implementing the Iran nuclear agreement.
The 2015 nuclear agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), limited Iran’s uranium enrichment program to prevent the development of nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting international sanctions. However, in 2018, the United States withdrew from the deal, claiming it did not adequately curb Iran’s nuclear activities, and reimposed sanctions. China has criticized the U.S. for its withdrawal and believes the U.S. should make the first move in reviving the JCPOA.
Despite the U.S. imposing new sanctions on companies involved in Iran’s oil exports in September, including five companies based in China, Xi and Raisi pledged to strengthen their alliance. They expressed their commitment to deepening cooperation in trade, agriculture, industry, and infrastructure, as well as importing more high-quality Iranian agricultural products. The two countries began the implementation phase of a 25-year cooperation accord last year, under which China is investing billions of dollars in Iran’s petroleum sector in exchange for the supply of oil and petrochemical products.
In an editorial published in China’s state-controlled People’s Daily ahead of his visit, Raisi wrote that both countries believe that unilateralism and the use of “violent” measures such as sanctions are the main causes of global crises and insecurity. He described China as an “old friend” and stated that Iran’s efforts to strengthen relations with China would not be impacted by regional or international situations.
China’s support for Iran in protecting its nuclear rights and interests highlights the strong bond between the two nations. China’s willingness to deepen cooperation in various sectors and its commitment to the 25-year cooperation accord will further strengthen the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership.