The recent revelation of an agreement between China and Iran to strengthen their economic and security ties has surprised many.
Some find it strange that Beijing should want to add more stress to its already difficult relationship with Washington. Others question the wisdom of Beijing explicitly aligning itself Tehran, which could upset the delicate balance China has worked hard to maintain for itself between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
In fact, China is precisely pursuing deals like that with Iran to build allies among “like-minded” countries to counter what Beijing perceives as an anti-China coalition led by the US. These alliances are more significant than the US thinks, and, equally, more fragile than Beijing might hope.
The deterioration of relations between Beijing and Washington in recent years has forced China to attempt to forge ties with previously undesirable partners. Among states important to the great-power competition and not yet a member of the Western club, Russia and Iran are the two most consequential “friendly forces” for China.
Read the full article in Asia Times.