During an Iranian parliamentary session on 5 July 2020, the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, confirmed ongoing negotiations about a strategic partnership with China.
An official draft of the deal has not yet been published nor submitted to the Iranian parliament. On 11 July 2020 the New York Times reported that it had obtained an 18-page proposed agreement of the deal dated June 2020.
Giving credence to the leaked document the agreement is about future economic and military cooperation between China and Iran. It provides for Chinese financial investment in Iran’s banking, telecommunication and transportation sector and discounts on Iranian oil for China.
Although the truth and validity of the document must be questioned, the intent of closer cooperation between Iran and China is not new. Both governments openly stressed their commitment to mutual cooperation during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Iran in January 2016.
Nevertheless, current geopolitics provoke implicit assumptions about this deal. Iran and China are both targeted by restrictive US policies. The Beijing-Tehran axis could be interpreted as a collective geopolitical response to further US dominance. Furthermore, it would set a milestone for China’s Belt and Road Initiative while opening the way for Iran to escape from economic isolation.
Neither the Chinese nor the Iranian government confirmed the truthfulness of the document. Whether such a partnership materialises, will be subject to domestic and international politics.