Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

Iran and China have drafted an economic and security partnership that would allow for billions of dollars in Chinese investments in energy and other sectors – including the military.

Details

  • With this move China would expand its presence in Iran’s banking and telecommunications sectors as well as railways, ports and other projects.
  • In exchange of this investment, Iran would supply Beijing with a heavily discounted supply of oil over the next 25 years.
  • China is a key market for Iranian crude oil exports, which have been dampened by US economic sanctions.
  • The deal would allow China to gain a foothold in a region where the US has had strategic residence for the last few decades.
  • China has been stepping up its military cooperation with Iran over the past decade.

Reading the move from India’s Perspective

  • The US – China tussle arriving in Iran would be a new challenge within a challenge for New Delhi, which has over the past few years been balancing its relations with the US and Iran.
  • For India, an extensive economic and security pact between Iran and China raises some critical concerns.
  • The Chabahar port project, often scene as India’s strategic magnum opus in Iran, is also envisaged as a bridge between India, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • Iran has not shied away by leveraging both China and Pakistan as potential investors for the Chabahar Special Economic Zone, challenging Indian public narratives of Chabahar seemingly being an India-exclusive project.
  • Iran has also decided to build the rail line connecting Chabahar with Zahedan on the Afghan border alone, citing delays in funding from India.
  • The development of Chabahar has often come under duress due to financial, political and diplomatic largess by both India and Iran, and also due to US pressure along with sanctions blocking most legitimate financial highways to and from Iran.
  • For India, going forward after the almost-war like situation with China in Ladakh, an institutionalized slide towards the US today may potentially come at the price of hedging itself over Iran as per Trump administration’s narratives.
  • However, the modalities of an Iran – China strategic partnership would be of vital interest to India not only as part of its relations with Tehran, but more importantly as per China’s access to the Indian Ocean region, connecting via Gwadar, Djibouti and possible permanent military accesses arrangement with Iran.

-Source: The Hindu, New York Times


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