The meeting of Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in the Chinese province of Yunnan bodes well for the future of Sino-Iranian relations. It is a little known fact that during the Yuan dynasty Shams al-Din, an Iranian from Bukhara, was appointed Yunnan’s first provincial governor. The meeting of the two foreign ministers in Yunnan thus takes on added historical significance.
Both China and Iran are ancient civilizations that have been in contact with one another throughout the span of history. As far back as the Han dynasty, over 2000 years ago, China and Anxi, the Chinese name for ancient Persia, were in contact and had friendly trade and diplomatic relations. These ties were strengthened during later dynasties and Iran was an important conduit for the ancient and medieval Silk Road connecting China to the West.
In more recent times both China and Iran have been targets of Western colonialism and imperialism. The U.S. hegemonists have sought to destabilize both nations and have waged an incessant hybrid war against them, pursuing their containment by encircling them with military bases and engaging in provocative military actions. It is only natural that Iran and China see themselves as comrades-in-arms in their struggle to protect their sovereignty and independence.
Under the Trump Administration, both have suffered from maximum pressure campaigns meant to force them to concede to Washington’s demands. Trump’s tactics have scuttled international agreements and contravene international norms. U.S. actions should be condemned by all peace and freedom-loving people and nations.
Both Iran and China share a common experience of resistance to foreign domination that has not only strengthened their resolve but fortified their friendship. It is in their common interest to develop their ties in a comprehensive and constructive manner. The meeting in Yunnan is a major step in that direction.
The forthcoming November elections in the U.S. will have a significant impact on both Sino-American and Iranian-American relations. A Trump win may signal a continuation of the current policies toward both but could result in either a lessening of, or increase in, tensions as Trump’s mercurial personality is hard to predict. Neither Iran nor China, however, can put any trust in what he or his representatives say as they have constantly gone back on their word. The only sound policy is to prepare for the worse when dealing with them.
If the Democrats retake the White House there is a greater prospect of a return to the policies of the previous Obama administration as regards Iran and China. American tactics may change but the strategic goal of containing Iranian and Chinese influence both regionally and globally will remain the same.
Being ancient and proud civilizations that have made sterling contributions to human progress throughout the centuries it is no wonder that the two nations share a common bond of friendship and support each other’s efforts for national rejuvenation and a multipolar world.
Although the two countries have different political systems they are united by mutual respect and shared admiration for each other’s fine cultural traditions and a common desire for peace, development, and security. It is on this firm foundation that Sino-Iranian ties will continue to grow in strength and flourish over the coming decades.