All JCPOA parties should create necessary conditions for consensus
Chang Hua

Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for influential leaders to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Chang Hua is the Chinese ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Driven by changes unseen in a century, the world is moving at a faster pace as it enters a period of turbulence and transformation. Under the new paradigm, many people who genuinely care about China-Iran relations are pondering how to further develop the relationship between the two countries. What impact will the Iran nuclear issue have on China-Iran relations? To have an accurate understanding of the bigger picture of China-Iran relations amidst the turbulent times, we must look for answers from the long history of relations between the two countries, especially the episode since the two countries established diplomatic relations over 50 years ago.

As a line from a Chinese poem goes, "though intimate friends miles apart, no distance if sharing a heart." China and Iran are both ancient civilizations with a long history of friendly relations. The ancient Silk Road has long brought China and Iran together, and the two ancient civilizations have made important contributions to the progress of human civilization by learning from each other. Today, in the great journey to the rejuvenation of the two civilizations, China and Iran have continued to strengthen dialogue and exchanges and promote friendship and cooperation in various fields, taking firm strides forward side by side.

Their mutual political trust serves as the anchor for developing China-Iran relations. In 2016, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Iran. Both sides agreed to upgrade China-Iran relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership, thus opening a new chapter in the history of the two countries' relations. In August last year, President Xi Jinping had a telephone conversation with President Ebrahim Raisi to celebrate the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries and steer the course for the future of China-Iran relations. President Xi pointed out that history has proved that China-Iran relations have withstood the test of changes in the world. The two countries have always firmly supported each other in safeguarding national sovereignty and dignity and have supported each other in safeguarding the development path. The two sides have firmly supported each other on issues relating to each other's core interests and major concerns, which has effectively consolidated China-Iran strategic mutual trust and defended fairness and justice in the international arena.

Flags of participating states during a meeting of the joint commission on negotiations aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal in Vienna, Austria, December 9, 2021. /VCG

Flags of participating states during a meeting of the joint commission on negotiations aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal in Vienna, Austria, December 9, 2021. /VCG

The joint fight against the pandemic is a shining example of China-Iran cooperation. Iran was the first country to publicly show its solidarity with China at a critical time in the fight against the pandemic. When the coronavirus began to spread in Iran, the Chinese government and social groups extended a helping hand to Iran by providing medical supplies and assistance. China also sent its first volunteer medical expert team to Iran to assist the country in its fight against the virus. Facing the impact of the pandemic, China and Iran have helped each other and overcome the difficulties together, a real testament to the strong and deep friendship between China and Iran, echoing the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Practical cooperation helps China-Iran relations to go deeper and stay pragmatic. China and Iran are highly complementary in resource endowments and national advantages. China has maintained its position as Iran's largest trading partner. In recent years, exchanges and cooperation between the two sides in culture, education, journalism, publishing, and tourism have continued to expand. The growing people-to-people exchanges have led to ever-closer cultural ties between the two countries. The two sides are committed to promoting cooperation in various fields under the "Belt and Road Initiative" framework and achieved fruitful results. At the beginning of this year, the two sides jointly announced the launch of the implementation work of a comprehensive cooperation plan between the two countries, agreeing to strengthen cooperation on energy, infrastructure, production capacity, science and technology, and health care. Both sides also agreed to expand cooperation in agriculture, fisheries, and cyber security as well as promote tripartite cooperation, and deepen people-to-people and cultural exchanges in education, film, and personnel training, so as to promote the comprehensive improvement and upgrading of China-Iran relations for the betterment of the two peoples.

The relationship between China and Iran has been steadily strengthened by mutual trust and support. The one who is thy friend indeed, he will help thee in thy need. In the face of the U.S. hegemonic practice of "maximum pressure" on Iran, China upholds international fairness and justice, unswervingly develops the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership and supports the reasonable and legitimate demands of the Iranian side. The Iranian side also firmly supports China on issues of core interests and importance to China. The development of China-Iran relations has strong intrinsic momentum. Both countries will certainly overcome all difficulties and move steadily forward hand in hand.

When it comes to China-Iran relations, it is impossible to shy away from talking about JCPOA on the Iran nuclear program, but it's worth noting that the Iran nuclear issue is not a bilateral issue between China and Iran, much less can it be used to define the entire China-Iran relationship.

In July 2015, Iran reached a comprehensive agreement on the Iran nuclear issue with the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany, which the UN Security Council endorsed. The Iran nuclear deal is an important achievement in international security governance and a model for resolving international hotspot issues through political and diplomatic means. The deal has played an important role in maintaining the international nuclear non-proliferation regime as well as peace and stability in the Middle East. In May 2018, under the Donald Trump administration, America unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, ignoring international law and its international obligations, exerting maximum pressure on Iran and obstructing other parties from fulfilling this agreement, which directly caused the current tensions over the Iran nuclear issue.

In April 2021, the parties to the Iran nuclear deal began negotiations in Vienna, the capital of Austria, to discuss the revival of the international pact. As of now, the talks have reached the eighth round and entered the final stage. Aimed at upholding international fairness and justice and maintaining the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and peace in the Middle East, China has participated constructively in the Vienna negotiation process, put forward Chinese wisdom and solutions, and contributed to building consensus and moving the negotiations forward.

China views that since the negotiations on the revival of the Iran nuclear deal have reached the final stage, all parties should step up diplomatic efforts to make a political decision at an early date and resolve the remaining issues in one go. The U.S., as the culprit behind the current tension over the Iran nuclear issue, should correct its mistakes, take more practical measures, respond positively to the legitimate concerns of all parties, and push for an early agreement through negotiations. All parties should create the necessary conditions and a favorable atmosphere for diplomatic efforts to progress. China will continue to make unremitting efforts to promote a political and diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear issue and firmly safeguard its own legitimate rights and interests.

No matter how things change in the world, China always attaches great importance to the development of China-Iran relations and is ready to work with the Iranian side to implement in earnest the important consensus reached between the two heads of state, strengthen communication and coordinate actions, and constantly enrich the connotation of the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership, so as to usher in a new era for the development of bilateral relations.

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