September 23, 2014

High-Profile Naval Visit Belies China’s Low-Profile Approach to Iran

By Richard Weitz

Two Chinese warships paid a port call to Iran over the weekend, in advance of a four-day joint naval exercise with the Iranian navy that was reportedly to begin Monday. The visit highlights China’s ties with Iran, at a time when the outcome of international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program remains uncertain.

As those negotiations resume, China seems to be the least concerned of all the parties about their outcome. This apparent indifference is understandable: Iran is physically distant from China; has not threatened China directly or through supporting terrorism targeting China; and is not China’s only source of Middle Eastern oil. In sum, Iran is not a vital national interest for China, making Beijing’s Iran policy fluid, flexible and susceptible to outside influence.

China does not want Iran to obtain or even pursue nuclear weapons, as doing so could raise the prospect of a war in the Middle East that would threaten China’s energy supplies and decrease its trade and investment opportunities. Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons could also lead additional countries beyond the Persian Gulf to seek them, including countries of greater security concern to Beijing, like Japan and South Korea. However, China opposes using force or severe sanctions to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capacity.

Read the full piece at World Politics Review

  • Reports
    • March 29, 2020
    Forging an Alliance Innovation Base

    Executive Summary This report presents a blueprint for a community of technology innovation and protection anchored by America and its allies. Unless the United States builds ...

    By Daniel Kliman, Ben FitzGerald, Kristine Lee & Joshua Fitt

  • Commentary
    • March 27, 2020
    Sharper: Global Coronavirus Response

    As regions across the United States enforce states of emergency and a growing list of countries restrict travel, close schools, and quarantine citizens, the economic and human...

    By Chris Estep & Cole Stevens

  • Podcast
    • March 27, 2020
    China, Europe, and COVID-19 with CNAS’s Ashley Feng and Kristine Lee

    Ashley Feng and Kristine Lee join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to explain China’s response to COVID-19 on the latest episode of Brussels Sprouts. Feng is a Research ...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Kristine Lee & Ashley Feng

  • Commentary
    • The National Interest
    • March 22, 2020
    Breakthrough or Crisis? How Will Coronavirus Impact Tensions with North Korea?

    The novel coronavirus pandemic has accelerated geopolitical tensions first in Northeast Asia, with the original outbreak in China, and now around the world as the United State...

    By Duyeon Kim

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia