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Where does the China-Arab Summit leave Iran: What message did Hu Chunhua reveal during his visit?


Following Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Saudi Arabia on December 7, Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua also visited the United Arab Emirates and Iran from December 10 to 14. However, during this period, Sino-Iranian relations experienced turmoil. According to Iranian diplomacy

Following Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Saudi Arabia on December 7, Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua also visited the United Arab Emirates and Iran from December 10 to 14.

However, during this period, Sino-Iranian relations experienced turmoil.

According to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Chinese Ambassador to Iran Chang Hua visited an Iranian Foreign Ministry official on December 10, during which the Iranian side expressed Iran's "strong dissatisfaction" to the Chinese side.

The reason may be traced back to the first China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit on December 9.

At that time, Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the China-Global Summit, emphasizing that he would definitely support the GCC countries to maintain their own security, support regional countries to resolve differences through dialogue and consultation, and build a collective security framework for the Gulf; in the joint statement after the meeting, all parties even mentioned Iran Topics include Iran's nuclear program, Iran's behavior in the region, and three islands in the Strait of Hormuz that are disputed between Iran and the UAE: Greater Tunb, Xiaotong Lesser Tunb, Abu Musa.

The joint statement mentioned that the leaders of all parties support all peaceful efforts, including the UAE's initiative and efforts to conduct bilateral negotiations in accordance with the norms of international law to resolve the "three islands issue" peacefully, so as to resolve the issue in accordance with international law.

However, according to Western media, although this statement did not mention Iran, it called for bilateral negotiations in accordance with the norms of international law, contrary to Iran's refusal to negotiate, which triggered Iranian protests.

The picture shows that on December 8, 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Saudi King Salman during his visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin responded to questions at a regular press conference on December 12, saying that China and Iran have traditionally friendly relations, and it is a common choice for both sides to consolidate and develop the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership, and they are willing to strengthen communication and coordination with Iran. , to promote continuous new progress in bilateral relations, "Both the GCC countries and Iran are China's friends, and China's development of relations with both parties is not aimed at a third party. China has always supported the GCC countries and Iran in improving relations based on the principle of good-neighborliness and friendship." , carry out cooperation, achieve mutual benefit and win-win results, and jointly promote the development and stability of the Gulf region, and China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in this regard.”

When Hu Chunhua met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on December 13, he also emphasized that "China views China-Iran relations from a strategic perspective, and will not waver in its determination to develop a comprehensive strategic partnership with Iran, and firmly supports Iran's opposition to external interference. Safeguard national sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity."

Afterwards, the US media quoted the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) report on December 14, saying that Iranian President Rahim met with visiting Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua in Tehran on December 13 and said that Chinese President Xi Jinping last week Some aspects of the trip to Saudi Arabia caused "dissatisfaction" within the Iranian government and Rahid "demanded compensation" against the joint statement issued by China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), without giving further details.

On the same day, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji said that during Hu Chunhua's visit, China and Iran signed an agreement and memorandum on joint oil and gas development. "On strategic issues, Iran and China have the same views."

Judging from the results, the China-Iran turmoil has temporarily come to an end, but in the long run, Iran's anxiety may continue to exist.

On the afternoon of December 9, 2022, the first China-Arab States Summit was held at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the summit and delivered a keynote speech entitled "Carry Forward the Spirit of China-Arab Friendship and Jointly Build a China-Arab Community of Shared Future for the New Era".

(Xinhua News Agency)

The ownership of the three islands is just the fuse

First of all, the "three islands issue" that is hotly discussed in the Western media is only a superficial factor. The key to Iran's dissatisfaction with China is the closer proximity between China and the GCC countries.

The first China-Sea Summit and the China-Arab Summit marked the deepening of China's strategy in the Arab world: with Saudi Arabia as the core and the GCC as the platform, China must not only consolidate its own energy security, but also extend the "Belt and Road" and increase cooperation with other countries. Economic and trade exchanges between China and the United States must be enhanced in the context of the Sino-US game to enhance China's strategic initiative in the Middle East.

In the foreseeable future, the GCC and the Arab world will inevitably play a more important role in China's diplomacy.

However, Iran and the Gulf countries have been at odds for a long time. Although both sides intend to mend relations in the context of the US withdrawal, the years of rift cannot be resolved overnight, especially the long-term confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

After the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2010, Saudi Arabia increasingly felt Iran's "geographic siege", including the latter's high degree of involvement in Yemen's civil war and its substantial support for the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. , the Iranian theocratic government intends to "export revolution" and instigate rebellion and subvert the regime in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries; however, in Iran's thinking, its behavior is "forward defense", that is, by exerting geo-influence on vulnerable countries such as Lebanon and Iraq , allowing Iran to confront its enemies within the borders of other countries, not on its own territory or borders.

On December 22, 2021, during Iran's "Great Prophet-17" military exercise in the southwestern part of the country, a fireball formed when a missile was launched.


It is conceivable that as Iran expands its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, Saudi Arabia is increasingly dissatisfied. In particular, the Houthis have repeatedly launched attacks on Saudi oil production facilities in recent years, posing a security threat to Saudi Arabia.

In addition, Riyadh is also worried that Tehran will incite the Shiite communities in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait to cause riots. For example, there are many Shiites living in oil-producing provinces in eastern Saudi Arabia. Although the "collaboration" is exaggerated and lacks evidence, Saudi politics Elites still regard it as a potential "fifth column"; the "Arab Spring" riots in Bahrain in 2011 were even suspected by Saudi Arabia to be instigated by Iran, which led to direct military intervention by Saudi Arabia.

However, the United Arab Emirates, the country involved in the "Three Islands Issue", is not as incompatible with Iran as Saudi Arabia.

This problem has occurred many times since the independence of the UAE in 1971 and continues to this day.

Although Iran has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Emirates of Sharjah (Emirate of Sharjah) under the UAE, allowing the UAE to participate in the construction of the three islands actually controlled by Iran, but under Iran’s unilateral actions over the years, the schools and hospitals sponsored by the UAE have been gradually eliminated. expelled from the island.

In 2011, the UAE proposed to submit the "Three Islands Issue" to the International Court of Justice for arbitration, but Iran rejected it; in 2012, the then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even visited the Three Islands in person. Problem setbacks".

However, in the face of Iran's tough stance, the UAE has never been able to respond equally. The reason is related to the relationship between the two countries.

First of all, the UAE seems to be united with Saudi Arabia and is extremely unfriendly to Iran, but its economic ties with Iran are very close.

Looking at the national income of the UAE, in addition to the generous oil dividends, commercial investment and trade in goods are also the focus. Since Dubai is home to a large number of Iranian businessmen, many UAE citizens of Iranian origin live here. It has become Tehran's main trading partner; after the Iran Nuclear Agreement (JCPOA) came into effect in 2017, Iran's sanctions were partially lifted, and the trade volume between the UAE and Iran reached a peak of 12.9 billion US dollars. After "extreme pressure", the UAE was forced to tighten banking regulations and restrict visas for some Iranian citizens, resulting in a drop in trade between the two countries to US$3.9 billion in 2019. The UAE is still Iran's second largest import partner, second only to in China.

Second, the UAE's geographical location and national size determine that when it confronts Iran, it cannot put all its eggs in one basket and let the situation get out of control.

Compared with Saudi Arabia, the UAE lacks a vast hinterland and depth of resistance. Once the Iranian army invades, it may not be able to avoid the tragic ending of the whole country being occupied.

Therefore, although the UAE often cooperates with Saudi Arabia and Iran in the confrontation, it still cannot give up maintaining the relationship between the two countries. Medical experts, the second batch of military planes sent 32 tons of medical equipment and supplies, and received public thanks from Iran.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, came to the small city of Al Ula, Saudi Arabia on January 5, 2021 to attend the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit.


What are China's preferences?

In the final analysis, there are indeed frictions between Iran and the Gulf countries, but the "three islands issue" has been frozen for many years, and the interaction between the UAE and Iran in recent years has rarely resulted in conflicts.

Therefore, the Sino-Iranian diplomatic turmoil, the "three islands issue" is only superficial, and the convening of China-Saudi Arabia, China-Sea, and China-Arab summits is the key.

In other words, Iran is worried that the continued closeness between the GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, and China will affect its relations with China.

Comparing the economic and trade interactions between Iran, GCC countries and China, it is obvious that Iran needs China more than China needs Iran more.

In 2014, the trade volume between China and Iran reached an all-time high of US$51.8 billion, but the trade volume between China and Saudi Arabia was US$61.9 billion, and that with the UAE was US$54.6 billion, both of which were higher than Iran.

After the new sanctions were fermented in 2019, the trade volume between China and Iran dropped sharply. The trade volume between China and the UAE in that year was US$49 billion, more than twice the trade volume between China and Iran.

After the outbreak of the epidemic in 2020, the trade volume between China and Iran dropped to 11.2 billion U.S. dollars, but in the same year, the trade volume between China and Saudi Arabia was still 49.2 billion U.S. dollars, and the trade volume with the UAE was 35.5 billion U.S. dollars. Even the trade volume with Israel Both are $12.6 billion.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meets Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in the capital Tehran on March 27, 2021.


In terms of trade dependence, Iran's trade dependence on China reached 36% in 2014, a record high. Even in 2019, Iran's dependence on China was 33%, 13% higher than Pakistan; But when China's trade dependence on Iran peaked in 2011, it accounted for only 1.2 percent of its total global trade.

In terms of crude oil trade, Iran supplied 18% of China's total crude oil imports in 2001, which was the peak of China-Iran crude oil trade, while Saudi Arabia only supplied 15% that year.

However, after that, Iran’s share has decreased year by year, to only 3% in 2019, and Saudi Arabia’s 16%. However, Iran’s crude oil is quite dependent on the Chinese market. In 2014, China accounted for 49% of Iran’s crude oil exports, and it is still the same in 2019. close to 50%.

In addition, Iran, as a sanctioned anti-American country, also hopes to establish contact with "American enemies" such as China and Russia, so as to jointly resist the strategic oppression of the United States.

However, even Russia began to break with the United States only after the outbreak of the Russo-Ukraine War in 2022, and China avoided being involved in the confrontation between the camps.

On December 31, 2019, Wang Yi met with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif who was visiting China.

(Getty Images)

In fact, from a Chinese perspective, the U.S.-Iran rivalry is not without its benefits. After all, if the U.S. engages in a high-intensity confrontation with Iran, Washington’s strategic injection in the Indo-Pacific region will inevitably decline, and its manipulation of the Taiwan Strait may weaken; however, if the U.S.-Iran conflict spreads to Surrounding and affecting the Gulf countries, it may lead to frequent Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and other incidents, thus affecting China's energy security.

Therefore, under overall consideration, China has always maintained a certain safe distance from Iran. It not only hopes to maintain economic and trade interactions, but also avoids making false plays and falling into the dilemma of confrontation between camps.

On the eve of the signing of the "25-year Comprehensive Cooperation Plan" between China and Iran in 2021, Iran leaked the relevant content in Persian. Its intention is clear: to tell the world that China is an "anti-American ally" and that Iran is not fighting alone on the anti-American front.

However, this content was immediately hyped up by the Western media, that Iran would exchange its territory for aid, and that China would station troops in Iran, etc., which caused a public outcry in Iran. In the end, Tehran could only deny the existence of this "transaction text" between China and Iran.

During the back and forth, Iran's vulnerable situation has been fully revealed, and its desire to "catch driftwood" for China is beyond doubt.

Although Hu Chunhua assured President Leahy that the implementation of the "25-year comprehensive cooperation plan" would not be affected during this visit, it is impossible to change the trend of China's approach to China.

In fact, Xi Jinping personally visited Saudi Arabia, but did not go to Iran, which has revealed some clues: In today's Chinese diplomacy, the GCC and Iran have different weights.

In the foreseeable future, China-Iran cooperation will of course continue to move forward, and the trade volume may also pick up, but the level may not be as deep as that of China Shipping and China-Saudi Arabia. China should not only pursue long-term returns but also hedge short-term risks with Iran. But it is impossible to sacrifice relations with Arab countries for this, let alone the interaction between China and the United States.

What is the key to Iran's dissatisfaction with China?

China's strategic proximity and cooperation with Saudi Arabia and GCC countries.

Why is China-Iran cooperation likely to be as in-depth as China-Saudi Arabia and China-Ghailand cooperation?

Although Iran relies on the Chinese market, its share of China's crude oil imports and trade volume is not as significant as that of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other GCC countries.

Russia's backyard "competition" Iran involved in which Russia-Iran relations?

Moral police and turbans are not the real crisis of Iran The new era of interaction between China and Saudi Arabia will not only focus on the "petro-yuan" Qatar crisis After Xi Jinping's visit to Saudi Arabia: When will the free trade agreement with the GCC come to fruition?

Source: hk1

All news articles on 2022-12-15

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