EghtesadOnline: Bilateral relations between China and Iran will remain strong despite rising unilateralism and protectionism mainly brought on by the US, Iran’s Ambassador to China Ali Asghar Khaji said.
“China and Iran are enjoying good relations in the political, economic, industrial, investment and energy sectors, and bilateral ties are expected to step forward after the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani,” Khaji told Global Times in an exclusive interview on Saturday.
Rouhani was in China for a working visit as well as the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit over the weekend in the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong Province. Iran is an observer member of SCO.
Rouhani’s visit comes after the US declared on May 8 that it would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Iran said it would continue to honor the deal as long as the other five JCPOA signatories remained committed to it, according to Financial Tribune.
Khaji noted that China was the first destination of Iran’s foreign minister after the US pullout, showing that Iran expects China to play a “major and constructive” role in saving JCPOA.
“The nuclear deal was hard-earned and helped safeguard the international system of non-proliferation and maintain peace and stability in the Middle East,” Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Beijing in May.
“China has played a very positive and fair role in the negotiations. After the deal was reached, China has been truthful in implementing the landmark deal,” said Khaji.
After the US pulled out of JCPOA, which Khaji called “unlawful and unwise”, China reaffirmed that it would remain in the deal and would oppose any unilateral sanctions against Iran, he added.
Iran is also negotiating with other nations involved to keep the deal alive and will stay committed to it if its core interests are secured, said Khaji, adding that the deal can work without the US.
The ambassador said that if the other members can guarantee and ensure Iran’s core interests and advantages in the deal, Iran will stay in the deal.
China remained Iran’s top trading partner in 2017. Iran exported 34.89 million tons of commodities worth $9.06 billion to China last year, up 8.31% year-on-year.
“Iran’s trade and economic relations with China are transparent, and there is no reason for these relations to cease,” he said.
Khaji said Iran is interested in further enhancing its bilateral relations with China, stressing that there’s no international factor to restrict or stop the two sides from developing their relations.