Iran’s leader heads to China to bolster ties amid sanctions, protests and isolation

Iran and China strengthened their ties this Tuesday (14), on a visit by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Beijing, where he met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, amid a context of isolation of the Persian country in the Middle East. and attempts, so far not very fruitful, to resume the Iranian nuclear agreement.

Xi voiced support for the return of talks and said China would continue to “work constructively” towards resuming the pact, which the US pulled out of in 2018 under Donald Trump. Thus, in 2020, Iran failed to comply with the determinations of the treaty signed in 2015 by Washington, Tehran and Beijing, in addition to France, Germany, United Kingdom and Russia, which led to increased sanctions by the White House.

The visit of the Persian delegation to China included the regime’s top leadership, including ministers of Economy, Mining and Agriculture, in addition to the main negotiator of the nuclear agreement in the country, Ali Bagheri Kani.

“No matter how international and regional situations evolve, China will unswervingly continue to develop friendly cooperation with Iran, promote the steady growth of the strategic partnership between the countries, and play a positive role for world peace,” Xi said of the date.

On the Iranian side, Raisi published an article in the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s main newspaper, in which he calls China an “old friend” and talks about reinforced links despite eventual geopolitical changes.

In January, the two countries announced the implementation of a 25-year strategic pact at a meeting between the two foreign ministers in Tehran, also strengthening Chinese opposition to US sanctions.

There are some implicit references in the similar speeches of the two leaders. From an international point of view, Iran has been the target of ever-increasing US sanctions since Washington’s withdrawal from the treaty, on the grounds that Tehran sells drones to Russia and the shadow of repression of protests against the regime.

Iran is still dealing with the effects of the acts, which began after the death of Kurdish Mahsa Amini, 22, in September, and have subsided after a harsh crackdown, with executions of prisoners. Although successful in containing the demonstrations, the strategy contributed to the increase in sanctions and external criticism of the regime.

Also pointing to the changes mentioned by the two leaders is Iran’s regional perspective, which deals with growing isolation in the Middle East. In 2020, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates joined Egypt and Jordan in recognizing Israel as a state after signing the Abraham Accords.

In addition to the recent alliances of Gulf monarchies with Israel, the fear of neighbors regarding the country’s nuclear program and Tehran’s direct or indirect intervention in close disputes, such as in Yemen and Syria, contribute to this regional opposition to Iran. With the meeting starting this Tuesday, China is trying to maintain its diplomatic balance in the Middle East and deepen trade ties with Tehran, which seeks to increase trade with the partner and alleviate its regional and international isolation.

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