The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI):  Implications for Iran-China Relations

16 Jan 2018

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI):  Implications for Iran-China Relations

By Przemysław Osiewicz

January 16, 2018

In 2009 Ben Simpfendorfer published his bestselling book titled The New Silk Road: How a Rising Arab World is Turning Away From the West and Rediscovering China. He wrote among other things: “The Silk Road is about more than a trading route. It is about the historical, geographical, and religious ties that have bound the Silk Road economies together. The rise of China, the rise of oil prices, and the events after September 11 have reinvigorated them, making the Silk Road relevant once again” (Simpfendorfer, 2009: 166–167). The historical trade route was regaining its symbolic meaning. However, at the time nobody expected that four years later the Chinese leadership would propose a resurrection of the old land route and attempt to transform it into the biggest engineering project in world history. Although this time in a very modern way, the idea is the same. Its objective is to embrace landlocked states in Central Asia, establish land connections with Western Asia, Europe, as well as African partners, and become independent from naval powers, especially the US Navy, which controls all strategic points on the maritime route connecting East Asia with Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa, and Europe.

This article focuses on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its potential impact on Iran-China relations in the long term. Various political and economic aspects related to the BRI are taken into consideration. Would both sides benefit from the cooperation in the BRI framework or would one of them maybe have the upper hand? What are the main opportunities and challenges in the case of China-Iran relations and BRI implementation?

The work is based on primary sources such as official governmental documents, speeches of influential politicians, and official statistical data. Besides these sources, information from secondary sources was taken into consideration. These sources were relevant monographs, reports, and academic articles.

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