Research Paper: Why China Backs Iran

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¶ … China backs Iran

China and Iran are two of the most significant countries of the world in general and Asia and Middle East in particular. Since the two countries are neighbors, the two countries are of strategic importance to each other. China is called the factory of the world as it manufactures almost everything that is available in any market of the world. On the other hand, Iran's oil reserves are what make it an important country. With a great deal of instability in the region pertaining to the War on Terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the two countries are enjoyed good ties with each other. The measure of the relationship between the countries can be assessed from the fact that the number of Chinese students in the Iranian universities has increased tremendously over the years. Even though, America has been giving Iran a great deal of tough time ever since it started its nuclear program, China did not back out from supporting its neighbor. There are economic as well as the socio-political reasons behind this support. In this paper, we shall have a look at some of the main areas where China has been supporting Iran and the main reasons behind this support.

Trade between China and Iran

America as well as other Western countries has firmly decided that they would implement economic sanctions on Iran so that it does not have the finances to continue and develop its nuclear program. However, despite these tightening sanctions, China decides to build healthy relations with its neighbor. Some reports have suggested that Iran has become the biggest trading partner of China since now most of the oil that is generated from the soil of Iran is now being flown in the oil refineries of China. It should be noted that Iran is so rich in its oil reserves that 80% of its revenue is generated by this means.

Not just this but the Iranian market has become a really good platform for the sale of Chinese services and products. Since china realizes Iran's importance as a lucrative market for its products, it has decided to invest $1 billion to improve the infrastructure of the capital city of Iran, Tehran. A Chinese corporation has already made expansions in the extensive underground railway system of the capital, under the contract that is worth $328m.

Even though America has always been protesting against the countries and corporations that have friendly and economic ties with Iran, China refuses to cut down its import of crude oil from Iran as it makes more than 10% of its total oil consumption. In a statement that was issued by the foreign minister of China, it was said that China does not support any government that decides to impose unilateral sanctions on other nations that is pursuant to the domestic law. In any of the events, China believes that its trade relations with Iran are a part of the vast geostrategic policy that could be implemented to counter the rule of America in the Middle East. At the same time because of China's extensive support for Iran, it has also become really hard for America to makes its way to the Pacific region.

After the imposition of sanctions on Iran, it has now faced China for most of its imports. Navid is an Iranian trader who is the owner of a midsized company and has a contract with a Chinese company for the import of Chemicals that he supplies to the plastic industry of Iran. According to him, he used to import these chemicals from Europe five years ago, but because of the sanctions on Iran, he now gets most of the required products from China.

However, it is important to note here that most of the Iranian people do not have any special love for China or the Chinese products and services. Most of them just believe that China is just another country who wants to exploit Iran because of its weaknesses. They are of the view that they cannot really rely on China for its support.

As mentioned earlier that one of the main pillars on which the support of China for Iran rests is oil and gas. The main reason why China turned to Iran for oil and gas was because they wanted to switch their source of energy from coal to other sources. From the years 1974 to 1990s, a steep increase was seen in the importation of oil (Dorraj and Currier, 2008). In the year 2011, almost 10% of the import of oil was from Iran (China, U.S. Energy Information Administration). Apart from oil, China also imports other products from Iran that includes mineral as well as chemical products. Since China realizes the importance of Iran as its oil supplier, it is investing in the exploitation of the oil reserves of the country so that access to the stores of oil and gas could be facilitated (Simpson, 2010). According to some statistics, the China National Petroleum Corporation was given $85 million to exploit 19 wells of natural gas fields situated in Southern Iran and then also signed another contract that was worth of $13 million. In the year 2004, a contract was signed between China and Iran through which China could import 270 million tons of natural gas over a span of 30 years the fields of South Par that known to be the richest natural gas fields in the world and are worth of $70 million. Moreover, Sinopec Group is another Chinese company that has been granted half-share of the Yardarvaran oil fields. China would be investing 100 billion for exploration of these fields (Walt, 2005). Then again, in the year 2007, CNPC signed a contract of about #3.6 billion so that it could work on the development of gas fields that are located offshore in Iran. Later on, another contract was signed between the countries, which were worth $2 billion for the development of northern Iranian oil field located near Ahvaz. Apart from helping Iran develop its oil and gas sector, China is also working to transport Caspian Sea oil and gas to the Southern ports in Iran via pipelines so as to facilitate the export of these resources to Asia and Europe. It will not be wrong to say that Iran relies on China for the sale of its oil reserves and therefore for its financial stability. On the other hand, China also sells some petroleum products to Iran, in spite of the international pressures that are building up on both the countries.

From the above discussion, it is evident that both the countries need to maintain their ties for economic benefit and well-being. China is indifferent to the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran by America and other Western governments and is adamant on supporting Iran.

Political Relations -- How supporting Iran creates problems in Chinese Diplomacy

Leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee flew to Beijing in the year 2009 to have a meeting with the concerned Chinese officials with a request from Beijing that said that it is important for China to turn down their links with Iran if Iran was to be stopped from developing nuclear weapons (Wright, 2004).

It should be noted that the answer to the request was already given to Washington from the Chinese officials even before the members of the committee arrived in China. In June of 2009, China made a contract worth of $5 billion to develop the natural gas fields in South Pars. In July of the same year, Chinese corporations were invited by Iran to become a part of a project that was worth of $42.8 billion for the construction of seven oil refineries s well as a trans-Iran pipeline that measured 1,019 miles. Furthermore, in the subsequent month (about the same time when the American officials arrived in China), another deal was struck between Beijing and Tehran and this deal was worth of $3 billion. According to this deal, China would help Iran expand more oil refineries (Downs and Moloney, 2011).

The series of energy deals that were signed between the two countries came as a shocker for the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Howard L. Berman from California who claimed that these deals were giving a wrong message to Iran and would further make it determined for develop its nuclear weapons and violate international nuclear rules.

However, some analysts believe that another message was given through these deals by Beijing that subtly told Washington that two governments probably do not have the same point-of-view regarding the imposition of sanctions on Iran because of its expansion of the nuclear program. Therefore, these analysts believe that as long as China backs Iran, it will almost be impossible for America to impose and then implement these sanctions through the United Nations Security Council because China is not only the holder of veto but has also been one of the most reliable defenders of Iran and its… [END OF PREVIEW]

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