China and Iran: Expanding Cooperation under Conditions of US Domination

  • John W. Garver
Part of the The Nottingham China Policy Institute Series book series (NCP)


Contrary to a common perception, the robust, cooperative relation that exists between China and the Islamic Republic of Iran is about far more than oil. There is an unfortunate tendency to reduce the Sino-Iranian relationship to Iran’s supply and China’s consumption of oil. Petroleum supply is indeed one important dimension of the Sino-Iranian relationship, but it is an egregious simplification to reduce that relationship to oil. The relation between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) is also about two ambitious emerging powers who view each another as sharing many common interests and perspectives. They see one another as potential and important partners in what both believe will be a forthcoming era in which the US role in the world is much reduced. Broadly speaking, the Sino-Iranian relationship is about two like-minded and ambitious countries unhappy with the current state of US dominance of world affairs, who view a strong Sino-Iranian partnership as an important element of the post-US unipolar world that both aspire to create. It must immediately be stated, however, that this partnership operates in a context of an over-riding Chinese desire to maintain comity in relations with the United States for the sake of China’s economic development drive, and thus to avoid confrontation with the United States in the Middle East.1 Reconciling these opposites requires considerable subtlety, camouflage, denial, and obfuscation.


International Atomic Energy Agency Middle East Security Council Nuclear Weapon Chinese Communist Party 
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  1. 2.
    Zhu Jiejin, Zhongguo he yilang guanxi shigao (Draft history of China-Iran relations), Urumqi: Xinjaing renmin chubanshe, 1998.Google Scholar
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    Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, The Shah’s Story, London: Michael Joseph, 1980, p. 147.Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    John W. Lewis, Xue Litai, China Builds the Bomb, Stanford University Press, 1988.Google Scholar

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© John W. Garver 2016

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  • John W. Garver

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