On March 27, 2021, Iran and China signed a $400 billion, 25-year “strategic partnership” that will involve Chinese investments in Iranian banking, telecommunications, ports, railways, health care, oil and gas development, and information technology. China will also provide Iran with military technology and engage in joint training and exercises, joint research and weapons development, and intelligence-sharing. In exchange, Iran will supply oil to China at a discount.
“The deal helps Iran dodge American sanctions, and the cash infusion will ease economic pressure on the ruling mullahs,” the Wall Street Journal reported. Iran will have a long-time buyer for its oil exports that were reduced by U.S. sanctions. The foreign-exchange income, if that’s how the payments are made, will finance the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and proxy forces in Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
The former head orf Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate, Amos Yadlin, expressed concern about the agreement. “On the one hand, China opposes Iran having a nuclear bomb, but on the other, it's not helping to stop it. Iran, too, needs the political protection in which China would stop the United States from pressuring it. The Chinese understand the Biden administration is not the Tump administration and can be much more aggressive,” he said.
Sources: Farnaz Fassihi and Steven Lee Myers,“China, With $400 Billion Iran Deal, Could Deepen Influence in Mideast,” New York Times, (March 27, 2021).
“The China-Iran Axis,” Wall Street Journal, (March 29, 2021).
Alexandra Lukash, “Israel ‘worried’ about Iran-China deal, says former Military Intelligence chief,” Ynet, (March 29, 2021).