Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi have announced the launch of a 25-year cooperation deal signed in March.
Amir-Abdollahian said after a meeting with Wang, who is also a state councilor, that the two sides had agreed previously to announce January 14 as the official commencement of the agreement's implementation.
In a tweet in Chinese Friday, Amir-Abdollahian said during his visit he had exchanged views with Wang on a wide range of issues including the cooperation pact and the Vienna talks to restore the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). "We reached important consensus on these matters], the Iranian foreign minister tweeted.
A summary of the meeting between Amir-Abdollahian and Wang was posted on China's foreign ministry Saturday according to which Wang reaffirmed China's opposition to US sanctions against Iran and blamed the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA as the reason for current difficulties with Iran. China and Iran are both subjected to US sanctions.
This week, the Biden Administration also tried to blame lack of progress in the nuclear talks on former President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Obama-era nuclear agreement.
Wang also said China firmly opposes political manipulation through topics including human rights, and interference in the internal affairs of Iran and other regional countries in an apparent reference to the US and its European allies' demand to include such topics in the Vienna nuclear talks.
A 25-year cooperation pact between Iran and China, according to Iran's Tejarat News, was first proposed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei during Chinese President Xi Jinping during his 2016 visit to Tehran. The agreement was signed on March 27during Wang's visit to Tehran.
The pact has been very controversial in Iranbecause its details have never been disclosed. A leaked copy of the final text only outlines the general terms of the agreement, but Tehran officials, beleaguered by economic crisis they cannot solve, hope it will bring billions in investment and make Iran part of China' Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure scheme intended to stretch from East Asia to Europe. The project aims to significantly expand China's economic and political influence and has raised concerns in the United States and elsewhere.
"The 25-year agreement with China will have an important role in strengthening the country's infrastructures. It will transform aerial navigation, petrochemical and oil infrastructure, urban and road transportation, as well as IT and communications," Ali Nikzad, deputy speaker of the Iranian parliament told the official news agency IRNA Saturday.
The Chinese foreign ministry's summary of the meeting between Amir-Abdollahian and Wang on Friday said the agreement would deepen Sino-Iranian cooperation in areas including energy, infrastructure, agriculture, health care and culture, as well as cyber security and cooperation with other countries.
Critics of the pact in Iran believe closer relations between Tehran and Beijing will provide a better foothold for China in the Middle East that Beijing depends on for its energy needs, as well as economic benefits without significantly contributing to the Iranian economy.
The flagship hardline newspaper Kayhan accused the critics of the Raisi administration's pursuit of closer relations with Eastern countries, namely China and Russia, of opposing the Chinese pact to mislead the public and sabotage Tehran's relations with Beijing and Moscow in order to secure the interests of the West.
"They are worried about the possible economic breakthroughs through Iran's strategic relations with Eastern countries which will neutralize the impact of US sanctions," an article in Kayhan said Saturday.