0321 GMT May 22, 2018
China and Iran are countries with thousands of years' civilization. The ancient Silk Road witnessed long-lasting friendship between the two peoples. Since the inception of China-Iran diplomatic ties in 1971, leaders of the two countries have had frequent visits and contacts at all levels and China-Iran relationship has maintained abundant fruits in political, economic, cultural and other fields.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which attracted close attention and positive response from Iran.
China and Iran are joining hands together in strengthening mutual communication and collaboration, widening the channels of cooperation, and promoting the healthy development of bilateral relationship.
It is reaffirmed in the report of 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China that Beijing will stay committed to the basic policy of opening up and making new ground in pursuing opening up on all fronts. China will actively promote international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative. In doing so, we hope to promote policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds and thus build a new platform for international cooperation to create new driving force for shared developments. We have seen much accomplished in cooperation of belt and road between China and Iran, a multitude of successful economic and commercial cooperative projects have emerged based on the deepening of cooperation on Five-Pronged Approach, which shows huge development potentials of economic and trade cooperation between China and Iran.
For policy coordination, during President Xi’s visit to Iran in January 2016, China and Iran signed 17 memorandums of understanding, including the MoU on Jointly Promoting Silk Road Economic Belt & 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Construction between the government of the People’s Republic of China and the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and memorandums of understanding on energy, industrial capacity, financing, investment, ICT, culture, technology, etc. These documents complement the development strategies of our two countries by leveraging our comparative strength.
For facilities connectivity, when visiting Iran, President Xi had in-depth communication with President Hassan Rouhani on the topic of regional interconnection. This year we witnessed signing the contract of the high-speed upgrading of Tehran-Mashhad Railway and the Tehran-Isfahan Railway has already been under construction, which our two governments attach great importance to and vigorously promote. Furthermore, Chinese enterprises have participated in many infrastructure projects in Iran, which played an important role in enhancing local economy and improving people's livelihood. For example, Norinco International and CITIC participated in building Tehran Metro Line 5 and Tehran Metro Line 1 and Line 2 respectively.
For unimpeded trade, China and Iran have great complementarities in natural resources and industrial structure and the trade between China and Iran has always been mutually beneficial. Over the years, China has been Iran’s largest trading partner and Iran's largest export market for oil and non-oil products. In 2017, Iran's export to China reached 18.58 billion dollars, up 25.3 percent over the same period of last year. The share of the Chinese market in Iran's total exports has been rising year by year. China has successfully opened the market for Iran's petrochemical products, mineral products, metal products and agricultural products. In November 2018, China will hold the first China International Import Expo, set up a new platform for economic and trade cooperation, and further open the market to the world. This will be another great opportunity for Iranian products to enter Chinese market. At the same time, Iran's imports from China have been developing steadily. Chinese goods have addressed gaps in Iranian consumer market and enriched people’s choice. Just take Huawei for example, its mobile phone sale in stock reached 11.2 million, accounting for 32 percent of Iran’s market share, and becoming popularity for ordinary people.
For financial integration, in meeting with President Rouhani, President Xi pointed out that financial cooperation is a "booster" for pragmatic cooperation between the two countries.
China's financial institutions are willing to provide financial support for bilateral economic cooperation. Chinese Banks and insurance companies have signed MoUs with their Iranian partners, and both sides are working on specific projects, trying to explore new forms of financial cooperation in the post-sanctions era.
For people-to-people bonds, the Chinese government and people treasure the friendship with Iran. The purpose of the cooperation between China and Iran is to build a garden full of flowers that China and Iran share together. Bilateral economic and trade cooperation is deeply rooted in improving people's livelihood and strengthening industrial development. In the meantime, Chinese enterprises actively carry out public welfare undertakings and shoulder their social responsibilities. In November 2017, a strong earthquake broke out in the Kermanshah area. There were many Chinese companies and individuals that made their own contributions among which the Chery MVM Company quickly set up a disaster relief service team for aid.
The concept of peaceful development and win-win cooperation is rooted in the rich soil of Chinese civilization. The Belt and Road Initiative raised by President Xi precisely reflects the spirits of the Chinese traditional culture, provides an implementation path of policy, infrastructure, trade, financial, and people-to-people connectivity, brings together the aspirations and dreams of relevant countries for development and peace, and is a link to promote civilization dialogue, exchanges and cooperation. We believe that under the guidance of the Belt and Road Initiative, with the joint efforts of the peoples of China and Iran, China and Iran will embark on a path of win-win cooperation.
*Wu Peimin is the commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Iran.