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China, Iran close to reaching trade and military partnership

Why in news?

Iran and China have quietly drafted a sweeping economic and security partnership that would clear the way for billions of dollars of Chinese investments in energy and other sectors

More about the deal

would vastly expand Chinese presence in banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of other projects. In exchange, China would receive a regular — and, according to an Iranian official and an oil trader, heavily discounted  supply of Iranian oil over the next 25 years

deepening military cooperation, potentially giving China a foothold in a region that has been a strategic preoccupation of the United States for decades. It calls for joint training and military exercises between China and Iran

More about Chinese Dominance in geopolitics

  • China is not a littoral state in the Indian Ocean. Historically, Chinese naval activity was limited to the East China Sea, the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, and the South China Sea.
  • In today’s context, China is the second-largest economy and the world’s largest trading nation. The sea-lanes of communication in the Indian Ocean are vital to her economy and security.
  • Under international law, China should have equal access to the Indian ocean.

China’s “Malacca Dilemma”

  • China thinks that others would block the Malacca Straits to “contain” the Chinese. So, China has strategized to dominate not just the Malacca Straits, but the ocean beyond it.
  • The PLA Navy (PLAN) made its first operational deployment in the Gulf of Aden in 2008. In 2009 China planned for overseas base or facility. In 2010 a China State Oceanic Administration report alluded to plans to build aircraft carriers.

BRI: Overcoming the deficiencies China face in India Ocean

  • The US hegemony and India’s regional influence in the Indian Ocean are thought of as a challenge to China. So, China focused on 3 inherent deficiencies that they wanted to overcome.
    • China is not a littoral state.
    •  Its passage through key maritime straits could be easily blocked.
    • The possibility of US-India cooperation against China.

How to overcome these deficiencies?

  •  Carefully selecting sites to build ports. And Chinese have ports at Djibouti, Gwadar, Hambantota, Sittwe and Seychelles.
  • Conducting activities in a low-key manner to “reduce the military colour as much as possible”.
  • By not unnerving India and America by cooperating at first, then slowly penetrating into the Indian Ocean, beginning with detailed maritime surveys, ocean mapping, HADR, port construction and so on.
November 2023