عنوان مقاله [English]
Iran and China have converged into cooperation as a result of the realities in political and spatial structures of power in Iran and the geopolitical realities governing the international system. Given the strategic importance of the comprehensive 25-year cooperation plan between Iran and China, this study adopted a descriptive-analytical method to analyze the political economy foundations of this agreement and identify the factors affecting the convergence of these two countries into signing the agreement. According to the results, the Chinese state employs neo-mercantilism to resolve the bottlenecks of its export-based economy and secure the imported energy sources in order to extend its influence on strategic areas such as the Persian Gulf. The results also indicated the factors encouraging Iran to sign this agreement with China. These factors are as follows: the nature of Iran’s governing political system, confronting the dominance and hegemony of the US, leaving isolation, harnessing the pressure exerted by the West, improving the resilience of the political system to the potential pressure exerted by the West in the future, enhancing the ability to take risks, and benefiting from China’s veto power in the UN Security Council. This study also aimed to determine the critical or beneficial conditions that the Iran–China agreement could bring to Iran. Finally, this agreement can provide Iran with certain benefits in the current era.
Iran and China have converged into cooperation as a result of the realities in political and spatial structures of power in Iran and the geopolitical realities governing the international system. Given the political and economic nature of the Iran–China agreement, this study aimed to analyze its foundations and formation contexts in order to perceive the bonds between economy and policy in this agreement. The main research question is as follows: What effects have geographical, political, and economic foundations had on the Iran–China convergence and the formation of a comprehensive strategic agreement between these two countries?
Theoretical Approach: Neo-Mercantilism
Apparently, neo-mercantilism is an appropriate theoretical framework for explaining the research question due to the attempts made by the Chinese state to secure the imported energy and its policies for controlling the energy markets of countries with petroleum resources in addition to ensuring the long-term stable access for consumption in domestic industries. At the same time, the nature of the IRI’s political system should be taken into account with respect to the fact that the Iranian state plays the key role in its economy.
In this study, a descriptive-analytical approach was employed to identify geographical, political, and economic factors affecting the formation of a comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement between Iran and China. Moreover, a desk method was used for data collection. To identify and determine the critical or beneficial conditions that the agreement can provide for Iran, different potential states were considered for key factors. In addition, a questionnaire was designed within a cross-sectional framework and then given to 18 experts in relevant scientific fields. Techniques of future studies were employed in two phases called environmental monitoring (i.e., collection of indices) and mutual effects (i.e., scenario development through ScenarioWizard).
Iran was motivated to sign this agreement with China for the following reasons: foreign policy requirements in the 20-year outlook, nature of Iran’s governing political system, confronting with the dominance and hegemony of the US, leaving isolation, creating a strategic coalition to withstand the pressures exerted by the West in different areas, improving the resilience of the political system to potential pressures exerted by the West in the future, benefiting from China’s veto power in the UN Security Council, confronting Türkiye’s attempts at neutralizing Iran’s geopolitical situation, and extending effective national and regional territories. However, China sought the following goals in establishing strategic comprehensive relationships with Iran: needing energy supply sources, benefiting from Iran’s geographical position to reach Europe more easily and less expensively, accessing the global energy heartland, reaching business and arms markets, improving its position in both regionally and globally, deepening regional economic convergence, fulfilling security goals in the Indian Ocean, and improving its diplomatic leverage. These goals indicate China’s neo-mercantilism policies in signing the agreement with Iran.
The IRI’s foreign policy system has prioritized cooperation with the East as a result of one-sided sanctions imposed by the West. For this purpose, Iran has gained interest in China as a new hegemony power among eastern countries in the international system, for its power matrix is constantly soaring. Hence, Iran hopes to reach some of its national goals on regional and international scales by extending cooperation with China, which is considered a center of international power and wealth. According to the results of analyzing different scenarios, this agreement can provide Iran with beneficial conditions in the current era. At the same time, the Chinese state has adopted neo-mercantilism to extent its influence on important areas of the world. In other words, China is improving its international position in order to penetrate into strategic regions worldwide with the purpose of resolving the bottlenecks in its export-based economy and securing the imported energy sources.