TEHRAN (Iran News) – Chang Hua, the ambassador of China to Iran, tells the Tehran Times that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed a “five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in West Asia” during his recent visit to the region, which also included Iran. The ambassador also says the 25-year strategic partnership between China and Iran, which was signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers on March 27 in Tehran, will benefit both Iran and China and help promote regional and international peace.
“We believe the China-Iran comprehensive cooperation plan will not only benefit the two peoples of China and Iran but also contribute to regional and world peace,” Ambassador Chang notes tells the Tehran Times.
Some political and economic analysts have said the “25-year strategic roadmap” can help reduce tension between Iran and some of its neighbors on the Persian Gulf’s southern shores.
Chang says it is necessary to change the “traditional mindset” and see West Asian countries “as partners for cooperation, development and peace” rather than bitter rivals.
“The characteristics, models and paths of the Middle East must be respected. It is important to change the traditional mindset and see Middle East countries as partners for cooperation, development and peace, instead of perceiving the region through the lens of geo-competition. It is important to support Middle East countries in exploring their own paths of development, and support regional countries and their peoples in playing a major role in pursuing political settlement of such regional hotspot issues like Syria, Yemen and Libya,” the ambassador asserts.
He also says it is important to “promote dialogue and exchanges among civilizations to achieve peaceful coexistence of all ethnicities” in West Asia, adding “China will continue to play its constructive role to this end.”
“China-Iran relations not influenced by international developments”
The 25-year comprehensive cooperation document has received global attention.
The ambassador says, “History proves that China-Iran relations have withstood the test of the changing international situation.”
He also points to remarks by the Chinese foreign minister while visiting Tehran, saying, “State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi emphasized many times during his recent visit to Iran that no matter how the world situation changes, China’s willingness to develop China-Iran relations will not change.”
According to China’s top diplomat to Tehran, Foreign Minister Wang also said, “The China-Iran friendship will certainly continue to follow the direction defined by leaders of the two countries, stand on a new historical starting point and open a new exciting chapter.”
Some media outlets noted that the document includes cooperation in areas of railway and road transportation, manufacturing of refinery, petrochemicals, car production, development of oil and gas projects, protection of environment and promotion of knowledge-based companies.
The ambassador believes that the cooperation plan shows the will of the two countries to promote ties.
“Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s visit to China in October last year and State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi’s recent successful visit to Iran demonstrate that both sides attach great importance to the comprehensive strategic partnership of the two countries and have the political will to promote it further.”
While in Tehran, Wang held talks with President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader’s Advisor Ali Larijani.
According to the ambassador, Wang also held “friendly and in-depth talks” with Zarif.
“The two sides had extensive exchanges on bilateral cooperation in various fields as well as international and regional issues, resulting in positive achievements.”
The ambassador says the foundation for the strategic cooperation was laid during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Iran in January 2016.
“When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran in January 2016, China and Iran pointed out in the joint statement on the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership that the two parties agreed to conduct necessary communication and consultations on reaching a 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement considering the willingness of the two countries to actively develop bilateral relations as well as the economic complementarity and the current cooperation of the two countries in energy, infrastructure, industry, technology and so on,” Chang explains.
He goes on to say that “the plan focuses on tapping the potentials in economic and cultural cooperation and charting course for long-term cooperation.”
“Cooperation plan does not include any quantitative, specific contracts”
The ambassador also reiterates that the document is just a roadmap and “it doesn’t include any quantitative, specific contracts or goals but provides a general framework for China-Iran cooperation going forward.”
Iranian Ambassador to Beijing Mohammad Keshavarz-Zadeh has said the comprehensive strategic partnership is not against any third country. However, a few hours after the inking of the document, U.S. President Biden said he has been “concerned about that for a year.”
The Chinese diplomat says his country is “determined to preserve legitimate cooperation” with Tehran and says that sanctions and bullying tactics against Iran will get nowhere.
“In recent years, the U.S. withdrew from the JCPOA and reimposed sanctions on Iran, which brought difficulties and obstacles to China-Iran practical cooperation. China is always determined to preserve legitimate cooperation with Iran in trade, energy, and other areas with concrete actions and actively calls on the international community to protect Iran’s legitimate economic interests. We believe that unilateral sanctions and bullying approach are unpopular and bound to fail,” the ambassador remarks.
The diplomat believes that China and Iran “should take a long-term perspective, overcome difficulties, uphold the concept of win-win cooperation, strengthen the alignment of development strategies, continue to deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation in various fields, and achieve common prosperity.”
On whether the plan falls within the massive infrastructure project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or it is complementary to it, the ambassador notes, “The Belt and Road Initiative is an open and inclusive initiative for cooperation, which follows the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and focus on policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure, unimpeded trade, financial integration and closer people-to-people ties.”
He views Iran as an important transit route in the BRI project.
“Iran has been an important transport hub and distribution center on the Silk Road since ancient times and remains a key partner of cooperation in BRI construction today. The two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative in 2016. China has been Iran’s largest trading partner for many consecutive years. The cooperation between China and Iran within the framework of BRI shows candid consultation and mutual benefit, enhances the communication and understanding between the two peoples and promotes the mutual trust and support between the two countries,” Ambassador Chang states.
Five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in West Asia
The ambassador also says Foreign Minister Wang proposed a five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in West Asia during his recent tour to six regional countries, including Iran.
Following is the text of the five-point initiative the ambassador enumerates:
First, advocating mutual respect. The Middle East is home to unique civilizations which have cultivated unique social and political systems. The characteristics, models and paths of the Middle East must be respected. It is important to change the traditional mindset and see Middle East countries as partners for cooperation, development and peace, instead of perceiving the region through the lens of geo-competition. It is important to support Middle East countries in exploring their own paths of development and support regional countries and their peoples in playing a major role in pursuing political settlement of such regional hotspot issues like Syria, Yemen and Libya. It is important to promote dialogue and exchanges among civilizations to achieve peaceful coexistence of all ethnicities in the Middle East. China will continue to play its constructive role to this end.
Second, upholding equity and justice. Nothing represents equity and justice in the Middle East more than a sound solution to the question of Palestine and earnest implementation of the two-state solution. We support active mediation by the international community toward this objective and holding an authoritative international meeting on this matter when conditions are ripe. In its presidency of the UN Security Council this May, China will encourage the Security Council to fully deliberate on the question of Palestine to reaffirm the two-state solution. China will continue to invite peace advocates from Palestine and Israel to China for dialogue and also welcome Palestinian and Israeli representatives to China for direct negotiations.
Third, achieving non-proliferation. Based on the merits in the evolution of the Iranian nuclear issue, relevant parties need to move in the same direction with concrete actions and discuss and formulate the roadmap and timeframe for the United States and Iran to resume compliance with the JCPOA. The pressing task is for the United States to take substantive measures to lift its unilateral sanctions on Iran and long-arm jurisdiction on third parties and for Iran to resume reciprocal compliance with its nuclear commitments in an effort to achieve early harvest. At the same time, the international community should support efforts by regional countries in establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
Fourth, jointly fostering collective security. In promoting security and stability in the Middle East, all parties’ legitimate concerns should be accommodated. It is important to encourage equal dialogue and consultation, mutual understanding and accommodation and improved relations among Persian Gulf countries. It is imperative to resolutely combat terrorism and advance deradicalization. China proposes holding in China a multilateral dialogue conference for regional security in the Persian Gulf region to explore the establishment of a Middle East trust mechanism, starting with such subjects as ensuring the safety of oil facilities and shipping lanes, and building step by step a framework for collective, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security in the Middle East.
Fifth, accelerating development cooperation. Enduring peace and security in the Middle East require development, cooperation and integration. It is necessary to come together to defeat the coronavirus and achieve economic and social recovery as soon as possible. It is important to help post-conflict countries rebuild, support greater diversity in the economic growth of oil-producing countries, and assist other Middle East countries in achieving development and revitalization in light of different countries’ resource endowments in the region. China will continue to hold the China-Arab Reform and Development Forum and the Middle East Security Forum to increase the sharing of governance experience with Middle East countries.
China is prepared to stay in close touch with all sides on the five-point initiative and work closely to promote peace, security and development in the Middle East.