SOURCE: THE NEWS PK
China has said that Iran pursues an independent foreign policy and does not succumb to any external pressure. “Iran decides independently on its relations with other countries and is not like some countries that change their position with one phone call,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said as China and Iran signed a $400 billion agreement in Tehran. “Relations between the two countries have now reached the level of strategic partnership and China seeks to comprehensively improve relations with Iran,” Wang Yi was quoted by Iran’s state media as telling his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif ahead of 25-year cooperation accord.
“Our relations with Iran will not be affected by the current situation, but will be permanent and strategic,” Wang said. The accord brings Iran into China’s 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. China has spoken out often against US sanctions on Iran and partly contested them. Zarif called it “a friend for hard times”.
Wang met President Hassan Rouhani ahead of the signing in Tehran. The agreement was expected to include Chinese investments in sectors such as energy and infrastructure. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the agreement was a “road map” for trade and economic and transportation cooperation, with a special focus on both countries’ private sectors.
*Iran did not make more details of the agreement public, nor did the Chinese government give specifics. But experts said it was largely unchanged from an 18-page draft obtained last year by The New York Times.*
*That draft detailed $400 billion of Chinese investments to be made in dozens of fields, including banking, telecommunications, ports, railways, health care and information technology, over the next 25 years. In exchange, China would receive a regular — and, according to an Iranian official and an oil trader, heavily discounted — supply of Iranian oil.*
*The draft also called for deepening military cooperation, including joint training and exercises, joint research and weapons development and intelligence-sharing.*