On March 27, 2021, China and Iran signed an economic and security cooperation agreement according to which Beijing will invest $400 billion in Iran over the next 25 years. This is a far-reaching agreement that is certain to increase the Chinese strategic influence in the Middle East for decades to come.
The article in the Urdu daily Roznama Ummat.
Pakistani analysts are also watching how China's new focus on Iran will influence Chinese investment in Pakistan. In a report, the Urdu daily Roznama Ummat tried to assess the impact of the Chinese agreement with Iran.
The report is titled: "The Deployment Of 5,000 Chinese Troops In Iran [is] Part Of The Agreement." The Roznama Ummat report sees the deployment of 5,000 Chinese troops in Iran in positive terms for regional stability. Following is the text of the report.
"More Than 5,000 Chinese Troops Will Be Deployed In Iran, And A [Military] Base Will Be Built For Them"
"In the agreement with Iran regarding the investment project, China has also included a clause for deployment of its troops there; and more than 5,000 Chinese troops will be deployed in Iran, and a [military] base will be built for them. Before this, China has also put its signature on investment projects with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which shows that China is implementing a plan to increase its influence in the Middle East.
"Contrary to the general impression, analysts are also seeing positive impact of the Chinese investment in Iran on the CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] project underway in Pakistan... China is going to get cheap oil from Iran which will go to China via Pakistan. Similarly, China's [investment projects] with Pakistan are, instead of financial benefits, of strategic nature.
"Pakistani experts and analysts who observe these matters deeply completely reject the general concern in Pakistan that China is now moving in the direction of Iran [thereby abandoning Pakistan]. They say that the recent pact between China and Iran for economic cooperation will not be an alternative to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and will be rather nourishing it.
"According to experts, China has tried to wriggle itself out of the consequences of the American sanctions by cooperating with Iran in long-term economic and infrastructure construction and security matters. Iran has agreed to sell its oil to China at a price cheaper than international rates to get an assured source of income and so that the sale of its oil can continue without any obstacles. The documents of this [China-Iran] agreement have not yet emerged, but as per the known details, during the next 25 years Chinese projects worth $400 billion can significantly help in creating economic stability in Iran's damaged economy. In exchange for it, China will get oil, gas, and petrochemical products at cheaper prices from Iran."
Former Pakistani Ambassador Iqbal Ahmed Khan: "America Has Sidelined Both Pakistan And Iran Which Forced Us To Look Toward Others; China's Cooperation With Iran Will Benefit Pakistan Directly"
"According to the agreement signed between the two countries, 5,000 soldiers of the People's Liberation Army of China will also be deployed in Iran which is being opposed in Iran – at the forefront of which is the former President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. An analyst... has written that that this agreement, giving China an opportunity to deploy 5,000 security and military officials on the Iran territory, is a regional game-changer.
"Meanwhile, as per Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, the chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute, the Iran-China agreement is positive for the interests of Pakistan and the region because this will nourish a regional economic cooperation whose center is Pakistan, that is CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor]. Mushahid Hussain expressed the hope that it will help in providing stability to the role of [Chinese-built] Gwadar port in promoting regional cooperation between China, Afghanistan, Iran, and the countries of the Middle East and in stabilizing Baluchistan [the insurgency-affected Pakistani province along Iran's border].
"Former Pakistani ambassador Iqbal Ahmed Khan, who is the professor of international affairs at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), says that China's investment project with Iran is part of its $8 trillion Border and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, the CPEC being one of them. It is not correct to compare China's investment in Iran with the CPEC in Pakistan because both of them are Chinese investments and the two will be aiding each other, and its benefits will reach all the three countries [China, Pakistan, and Iran].
"The former ambassador [Iqbal Ahmed Khan] said that China's investment in Iran is not at the cost of Pakistan. He said that America has sidelined both Pakistan and Iran, which forced us to look toward others; China's cooperation with Iran will benefit Pakistan directly. Iran's oil, which currently travels 13,000 miles to reach China, will now travel 1,500 miles through the safe passage in Pakistan to reach China..."
Source: Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), April 1, 2021.