Iranians continue critizing both China and their own government for Beijing’s endorsement of a GCC claim over three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf.

Politicians and pundits criticize their government for its over-reliance on China and Russia, nearly one week after the Gulf Cooperation Council met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and a joint statement was issued, which included a reference to the three islands, signaling Chinese support.

The government in Tehran in turn has voiced some mild criticism of China over the issue. It has said that the GCC statement also signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping undermines its territorial integrity. President Ebrahim Raisi has called on Beijing "to make up for the mistake," but no official response from China has been observed yet.

In a statement on Thursday, December 15, Iran's Reform Front, an umbrella organization of several reformist groups and political parties called China's stance "interventionist and opportunist."Meanwhile, the Reform Front, which is a loyal opposition to the clerical regime said that "This has been one of the worst and the most humiliating development in which Iran's tattered foreign policy has damaged the country's national authority."

The front's statement further expressed "deep regret" about what it called "Iran's foreign policy failure after Iran's involvement in the war in Ukraine based on Russian President Vladimir Putin's initiative."

The strongly worded statement was issued while reformists have been mending their badly damaged ties with the country's authoritarian ruler Ali Khamenei by not supporting anti-regime protests.

President Xi meeting with Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman on December 8, 2022

The statement added that despite its occasional support for the Iranian regime, China would never miss a chance to take advantage of Iran's internal crises to expand its trade relations with Tehran's regional rivals. It also accused Moscow of the same sort of opportunism by convincing Tehran to get involved in the Ukraine war by supplying drones to Russia.

The unprecedented criticism of Khamenei's ‘Looking East’ policy by reformists continued with an article in the reformist Etemad newspaper by Esmail Gerami-Moghaddam the deputy leader of the reformist National Trust Party. He wrote that China's stance about the three islands sent a signal to the United States that like Washington, Beijing also believes Tehran’s regional ambitions should be checked.

Gerami-Moghaddam added that China preferred trade deals with Arab countries. "This shows that Tehran's policy of supporting stronger ties with China and its Looking East policy was a serious strategic miscalculation." However, Gerami-Moghaddam stopped short of saying that the architect of that policy was no one other than Khamenei.

Meanwhile, he argued that Iran could support Taiwan's independence and said China should accept to negotiate the fate of Taiwan. Gerami-Moghaddam recalled that since 2005 the Chinese insisted in their meetings with Iranian officials that Tehran should solve its problems with its neighbors and the United States.

In an interview with reformist Sharq daily, Ali Fekri the chairman of the Iranian Organization for Investment and Economic Assistance said that China chose not to invest in Iran and to transfer its capital and investments to other Persian Gulf states. He added that attracting foreign investment is not easy because of US sanctions. He maintained that last year, Russia was the biggest investor in Iran, but did not elaborate on the matter.

Iranian political analyst Ali Bigdeli told Nameh News that China's improving relations with Arab states does not mean that US influence in the region will diminish. Particularly, the US military and security relations with Persian Gulf Arab states is far more extensive to be affected with developments such as China's extended trade presence in the region.

Despite all these justifications, criticism of the Iranian government for over-reliance on China may continue for some time. On Thursday, Moineddin Saeedi, the member of Iranian Parliament from Chabahar in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, said at parliament: "Unlimited trust in China and Russia is sheer stupidity." He also criticized the Iranian government for "not giving the right response to China."

IITV News (54) - DC
IITV News (54) - DC
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