Monday, April 5, 2021

Activists and Filmmakers Protest Against 'Secretive' 25 Year Comprehensive Agreement Between Iran and China

 By New Age Islam Special Correspondent

5 April 2021

A 25 year Comprehensive Co-operation Pact between Iran and China signed on 27 March 2021 has sparked off protests in Iran. Under the agreement, China will invest in 100 projects in roads, ports, railways, telecommunications and defense projects. Moreover, under this agreement, Iran and China will hold joint military training, defense research, work on weapon development and intelligence sharing.

Protests have been staged in various towns of Iran against the secretive deal. On 28 March, 230 activists of Iran wrote to China's President Xi Jinping not to implement the treaty as it is not valid. The Agreement draft was not submitted to the Iranian Parliament for approval, they said. The critics of Iran government have described the agreement as secretive and detrimental to the national interests of Iran. They have alleged that the content of the agreement has been kept hidden from the people of Iran.

A few days ago, 18 Iranian film-makers also released a statement condemning the Agreement and describing it as against the national interests of Iran and illegitimate.

They have expressed their concern that due to this agreement Iran will lose its territiries to China in the same way it had lost its north-western territories to Tsarist Russia after its Treaty of Turkmanchai in 1828.

The proposal for this treaty was made by China in 2016 but both the sides had started working on it from 2019. The draft of the agreement was finalised in September 2020 as it got the approval of the Supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei.

Since the last few years, a section of Iranian people have been protesting against the religious regime of Islamic republic and demanding the establishmenr of a secular government. In June 2019 some activists had written a letter to the Ayatollah asking him to step down and pave the way for a secular government. The 25 year Comprehensive Agreement with China has intensified the movement against the Ayatollah Khamenei government as people increasingly feel that this Islamic regime is selling Iran to the communists of China.

However, the government officials and supporters of the government have justified the Treaty on the basis of increasing US sanctions against Iran that have crippled its economy and pushed Iran into isolation. The Agreement worth $400 billion will give a boost to the Iranian economy. Iran needs to increase its oil production to 8.5 million barrels a day to remain a key player in energy sector. Iran also needs trade with China as Iran's traditional European partners have left it due to sanctions and US pressure. The crumbling economy was also being used by the US to foment popular unrest against the Iranian government.

On the other hand, the Agreement between Iran and China is being seen as an expansion of Chinese trade and military influence in the Middle East. China has already set up a military base in Tadjikistan. It has also entered into an agreement with Afghan Taliban. Under this agreement, China will invest in education, infrasture building and six lane road network in Taliban occupied areas. In return, Taliban will ensure peace in the area.This will strengthen China's strategic position in Taliban controlled region after the US leaves Afghanistan this year. China will also set up military bases in Afghanistan and Iran putting up a challenge before the US in the region.

The US had signed an agreement with the Taliban in Qatar in February 2020. According to the agreement, the US will leave Afghanistan within 14 months. As the time for withdrawal is approaching, the US is facing a dilemma due to the increasing economic and military presence of China in the region. This Agreement will intensify hostilities between the US and Iran in near future.


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