China-Iran Deal: The Dragon bypasses the US Indo-Pacific fence

China-Iran Deal: The Dragon bypasses the US Indo-Pacific fence
Image from Pixabay

The extensive naval and air military siege that the Pentagon is building in the arch that goes from Japan to India, from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean, is leading China to strengthen continental ties with Russia and Iran.

Its objective is to find an alternative route to the long and narrow Malacca Strait between Malaysia and Singapore for the trade and supply of hydrocarbons.

On the one hand, Beijing is rapidly modernizing and expanding its naval fleet to face risks in the South China Sea. As if that phenomenal deployment were not enough, it covers its backs with its energy alliance with Russia, through the Siberian Force mega gas pipeline built between Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation.

The pipeline, inaugurated in 2019, runs 3,000 kilometres through Siberia, capable of transporting 38,000 million cubic meters of gas per year and guarantees to China the terrestrial supply, a route that cannot be blocked with the ease of maritime transport.

In the history of the Communist Party of China (CPC) the “encirclement and annihilation” campaigns of the pro-western white army of the Kuomintang against the red liberated zones, were mocked with attrition manoeuvres to avoid confrontation. When it was no longer possible to bypass the encirclement, the Red Army undertook a vast retreat to the west and north known as the Long March.

That strategy seems to be repeating itself, on a much larger scale, by signing a comprehensive strategic partnership.

In this context of growing tensions in the South China Sea, the deepening of the alliance with Iran must be understood. According to The New York Times analysis, the agreement signed this week is “a new economic and security partnership that will pave the way for billions of dollars in Chinese investments in the state of the Middle East.”

In Tehran’s version, China and Iran are long-standing strategic partners, which are now “reinforcing their strategies on the international stage to defeat US imperialism.” Indeed, both countries had agreed on a strategic partnership in 2016, although they have maintained close relations since the 1980s after the fall of the allied monarchy with the United States.

The US newspaper believes that military ties “include joint training, intelligence sharing, and joint research and development for future weapons programs.” On the economic front, the deal “would open the way for billions of dollars of Chinese investments in energy and other sectors, undermining the efforts of the Trump administration to isolate the Iranian government.”

In summary, the agreement between the two nations “represents a great blow to the aggressive policy of the Trump administration.” The agreement is expected to guarantee the supply of oil to China for the next 25 years, which undoubtedly benefits both parties as the US intends to completely block Iranian crude exports.

Analyst Pepe Escobar estimates in Asia Times that two points of the signed agreement would be vital from a geopolitical point of view. “Point 7 defines the scope of the association within the vision of the New Silk Road of the integration of Eurasia”, by which both parties “will expand cooperation and mutual investments in various areas, including transportation, rail, ports, energy, industry, commerce and services “.

According to Escobar, the agreement secures the supply of oil and gas to China (becoming the world’s leading crude importer), “avoiding the dangerous bottleneck of the Strait of Malacca, at an average discount of 18% and paid in yuan or in a basket of coins without going through the US dollar.”

In turn, point 10 refers to Iran’s participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), through which it proceeds to “a Chinese investment of $ 400 billion in energy and Iran’s infrastructure for the next 25 years.”

Investments in infrastructure through the AIIB will be about 228,000 million dollars and will be focused on the renewal of the oil industry and the construction of a 900-kilometre railway between Tehran and Mashhad, the second city and centre of pilgrimage near the borders with Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.

Just look at the map to understand that the layout of the railway is of strategic importance for the Silk Road. On the one hand, it crosses Iran interconnecting the main cities. On the other, it is a gateway to the key region of Eurasia, one of greatest geopolitical interest both for the supremacy of the United States and for the expansion of China. Between Mashhad in northern Iran and China’s Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (with three million inhabitants each), the railway or an eventual pipeline must cross Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
It is the heart of Eurasia, the northern edge of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the disputed Kashmir region. An extension of 2,500 kilometres that played a prominent role in history and will play again in the coming years. The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (founded in 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which was later entered by Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan), is called to play a leading role in the most important region of the planet.

Kazakhstan is the jewel of Eurasia, along with Iran. Both connect through the Caspian Sea and henceforth as key pieces of the Silk Road. China’s investment in Kazakhstan is concentrated in 51 industrial projects for 27,000 million dollars, in the oil and gas, chemical, energy, mining, metallurgical, agricultural and machine-building sectors.

In addition to the impressive dry port of Khorgos, on the border of Kazakhstan with China, a vast dune desert converted thanks to the Dragon’s investments in a massive industrial and logistics area. According to some observers, “Khorgos is the place where the East and the West meet on the Silk Road.”

It is worth remembering with respect to Eurasia, that Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book “The Grand Chessboard” argued that the region was the centre of global power and that no power should arise that could question the US dominance in the area. If something like this happened, the global power of the superpower would be hopelessly eroded.