MOTIVATIONS AND LIMITATIONS IN IRAN-CHINA RELATIONS
Kauffman, Bethany R.
Ostovar, Afshon P.
Glosny, Michael A.
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In March 2021 the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China signed a 25-year cooperation agreement detailing their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), critical to U.S. objectives deterring Iran and addressing strategic competition with China. To better understand this relationship and implications of the CSP, this thesis uses a historical analysis of Iran-China relations since 1979 to explain what motivations and limitations led to and shaped the CSP. The analysis concludes that the utility of the enduring relationship has resulted in a mutually beneficial partnership, despite U.S.-led international pressure against Iran. Relationship drivers—China’s utility to Iran providing economic and diplomatic support to counteract its isolation, and Iran’s utility to China for resources and as a hedge against the United States—led to the CSP. Conversely, relationship limitations—Iran’s fear of overdependence on China and China’s need to balance support for Iran with other priority interests—have resulted in the CSP being largely non-specific and cooperation being less than Iran’s strategic location and large natural and human resources dictate. Ultimately, Iran’s policies have led to its isolation and sanctions, which have caused it to turn to China for support; however, Iran’s policies have also caused China to moderate its support so as not to jeopardize China’s more important interests and relationships, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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