Cementing Sino-Iranian relations tops President Raisi’s agenda

According to the Foreign Ministry, President Xi Jinping will hold the talks to "jointly chart the course for and navigate the future development of bilateral relations."


February 14, 2023

BEIJING – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s China visit will highlight the two countries’ strong mutual support as well as Beijing’s lasting commitment and actions to promoting peace and prosperity in the Middle East as well as the world, officials and experts said.

They made the observation as Raisi is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on Tuesday for a state visit through Thursday, his first trip to China since taking office in 2021.

According to the Foreign Ministry, President Xi Jinping will hold talks with Raisi to “jointly chart the course for and navigate the future development of bilateral relations”, and the two leaders will have an “in-depth exchange of views on regional and international issues of common concern”.

During his visit, the Iranian president will also meet with Premier Li Keqiang and Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

China-Iran relations are based on a traditional friendship, and “cementing and developing the ties is the joint strategic choice of both sides”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday.

Beijing looks forward to working with Teheran to “take the visit as an opportunity to strive for greater progress of the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership”, Wang said at a news conference in Beijing.

The two nations will also seek to further “play constructive roles in boosting unity and collaboration among Middle East countries and facilitating the region’s security and stability”, he added.

China’s trade with Iran reached $12.32 billion in the first nine months of last year, up 18 percent year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Mohammad Jamshidi, deputy director of political affairs at the Iranian president’s office, said on Sunday that the visit will be of “economic, political and strategic importance”, Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Raisi said in an article published in Monday’s edition of People’s Daily that “Iran will, as always, uphold policies to strengthen Iran-China bilateral ties, and this will not be affected by any changes in the regional and international situation”.

“China’s economic growth and its outbound investment benefit the people of China and other countries, and we welcome initiatives proposed by China for promoting world peace, security and development,” he added.

He said his country appreciates China’s important role in the fight against COVID-19 and its support for Iran’s efforts to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Raisi also envisioned greater bilateral cooperation under the plan for China-Iran comprehensive cooperation, a blueprint that the two countries signed in 2021.

Li Shaoxian, director of Ningxia University’s China-Arab Research Institute, said that “China and Iran have a long history of friendly relations and are natural partners” who support each other’s core interests.

Iran is an ideal country in the Middle East for advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, and “cooperation with China is key for Iran’s economic development”, he added.

Observers noted that also high on the agenda for the Iranian president’s visit is advancing negotiations on resuming compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a landmark Iran nuclear deal enacted in 2016.

Ma Xiaolin, a veteran researcher on Middle East and Mediterranean studies at Zhejiang University, said that current prospects for the Iran nuclear deal have been dampened by sanctions and verbal attacks by the United States.

China’s consistent position on this issue is to reject attempts to politicize the deal and stay focused on negotiations, and “the upcoming meeting between Xi and Raisi may bring more hope” in terms of the resumption of negotiations on the deal, Ma told Chinese media ahead of the visit.

Speaking to reporters, Wang Wenbin, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, noted that the two countries “have kept good communication and coordination over international and regional affairs”.

The two countries firmly safeguard the principle of noninterference in internal affairs and the common interests of developing countries, he added.

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