Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Iran-China Deal

 Yes, this 25-year deal is a big deal, just recently signed and not getting much attention in the US media.  Juan Cole has called it the most important deal involving China and the Middle East since the days of the Mongol Empire in the 1200s, when both what was then Persia and China were actually under the same ruler.  This $400 billion deal was signed on the 50th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations between Iran (then under the rule of the Shah) and the Peoples' Republic of China (then under the rule of Mao Zedong). Cole identifies this deal as a "slap in the face" to the United States, or at least a clear sign of the limits of US power in the Middle East, with China stepping forward as a strong long haul rival.

I note only two points here.  One is that on the one hand this is certainly a repudiation of US policy regarding Iran in recent years.  It may be that its signing at this moment is a response to the failure so far by the new Biden administration to follow through on his campaign promise to rejoin the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran. That really should not have been all that hard, but it increasingly seems that this simple matter has gotten bogged down in extraneous demands by neocons in the Biden administration, with both the US and Iran now having gotten themselves into a "face" conflict regarding "who will move first."  I continue to hope that cooler heads are engaging in some unpublicized diplomacy, but all the noises so far have been that they are not.  Both sides are posturing, but the US should have just moved. If this continues, it will be the most serious mistake of the Biden administration, and this move by Iran towards China seems to be part of this signaling.

On the other hand, I think that this deal, or something like it, was probably going to happen eventually anyway, even if Biden had done what he should and just rejoined the JCPOA and removed economic sanctions without any fuss. The signing might have happened later and the deal might have been smaller and more limited in certain ways, but Iran's position makes it a clear gainer from participating at least some extent in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) being carried out by China.  Indeed, I think it is clear that Iran would be economically best off dealing with both the US and China and maintaining a balance between the two.  As it is, this delay in getting back into the JCPOA by Biden may prove to have put Iran into a situation it prefers less, and certainly with the very stiff economic sanctions Trump put in place still in place, Iran needs some help now from any quarter, and China is willing to step in and has.

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...



American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives

Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran, an "anti-hegemonic" coalition united not by ideology but by complementary grievances. It would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower. Averting this contingency, however remote it may be, will require a display of U.S. geostrategic skill on the western, eastern, and southern perimeters of Eurasia simultaneously.

Anonymous said...


August 4, 2014

Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China and Iran, 1971-2019

(Percent change)


August 4, 2014

Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China and Iran, 1971-2019

(Indexed to 1971)

[ Notice that in 60 years, real per capita GDP for Iran has declined by about 25%, while that of China has increased by more than 3,300%. China offers Iran the prospect of growth after all these years. ]

Anonymous said...


March 29, 2021

The China-Iran Axis
Beijing gains influence and helps Tehran evade U.S. sanctions. - Wall Street Journal

[ Notice the calculatedly inflaming headline. This is what the Wall Street Journal is all about. ]

Anonymous said...

Relatedly, notice that China is supporting a right to development:


March 30, 2021

China vows to safeguard developing countries' right to development

China is willing to stand in solidarity and coordinate with Bahrain and other developing countries to safeguard their common interests, right to development, as well as international fairness and justice, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday.

Wang made the remarks during his meeting with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in Manama. Bahrain is the last stop of Wang's six-nation tour, following Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

China always believes that all countries are equal, regardless of their size, Wang said. China is willing to make joint efforts with Bahrain to build bilateral ties into a model of equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit between large and small countries, he added.

China firmly supports Bahrain in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and stability and is pleased to see Bahrain play a positive role in maintaining regional peace, he told Hamad....

Anonymous said...


March 19, 2021

How Close Are China and Germany? Consider ‘Little Swabia.’
The city of Taicang illustrates the tight ties between the countries — and how difficult it could be for President Biden to win allies in his campaign to isolate Beijing.
By Keith Bradsher and Jack Ewing

[ Notice a repeated refrain in the New York Times about the Biden "campaign to isolate Bejing." This is of course a foolish campaign, and the critically important agreement with Iran shows just how foolish.

China has given Iran a development path, and I think that is profoundly important and hopeful. ]

Anonymous said...


March 29, 2021

An Alliance of Autocracies? China Wants to Lead a New World Order.
As President Biden predicts a struggle between democracies and their opponents, Beijing is eager to champion the other side.
By Steven Lee Myers

[ New York Times writing on China is always, but always fearfully slanted. ]

Anonymous said...

China now has new formed or advanced development and strategic relations with Hungary, Serbia, Greece and United Arab Emirates. Diplomatic initiatives have been dizzying since the year began, from Botswana to Iran...

Anonymous said...

Meet the economist, Frank W. Schiff, who saw ‘working remotely’ coming in 1979...


Obituary of Frank W. Schiff - died in 2006:


Looking ahead : identifying key economic issues for business and society in the 1980s / prepared by Frank W. Schiff.

Committee for Economic Development, 1980.


rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

For the record Egmont put a comment up here on this thread that I responded to, but both of them are now gone. I do not know who decided to delete both of those, but I am not pleased with this action. Egmont's comment was not worse than usual, although perhaps somebody here (I have a suspicion who) has simply decided to ban him from this blog.

It is not me, for the record, with in fact a comment by me being deleted, which I am definitely not pleased about.