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Iranian Fire In The Chinese Kitchen

Iranian Fire In The Chinese Kitchen

Monday, 29 March, 2021 - 09:30
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Has Iran concluded from its difficult experience with Trump’s America that it needs an international umbrella to protect it from isolation and the weight of sanctions, and provide it with a flow of goods and technology? Is it now ready to pay the price of taking refuge under this kind of umbrella?

Has Iran realized that the slogan, “neither the East nor the West”, which was raised at the beginning of the revolution is no longer valid? Hasn’t the leader of the revolution admitted it when he called two years ago for turning towards the East?

Does the Chinese support constitutes the needed guarantee that can replace Iran’s nuclear policy? Has Iran discovered that the dream of expelling America from the Middle East is impossible? That the dream of Iran becoming the biggest partner of the “Great Satan” is also unattainable? Did it conclude that Europe is a party that cannot be relied on to protect or boost an agreement?

Will voices rise later in Iran asking about the viability of gifts offered to China, in particular oil and gas prices, especially since former President Ahmadinejad did not hesitate to question this direction?

Did the Iranian leadership conclude that the Chinese umbrella does not pose a threat to the spirit of the Iranian regime, because it does not stipulate concessions on elections, freedoms and human rights, while Western demands put questions and doubts in the regime’s wall?

Some go further to ask whether Iran has decided to throw itself into the arms of China, based on its assessment of the distribution of roles in the adults’ club in the coming years.

It is natural for the signing of the “comprehensive document of cooperation” between Iran and China, which will last for a quarter of a century, to arise such interest.

China, in turn, has just emerged from a not-so-simple experience with Trump’s America. But when it comes to the Red Dragon, one must carefully read and make conclusions

Today’s China is not known to be adventurous. It is hard to believe that it aims to raise the level of the challenge with the United States to the brink of a heated conflict. Its interests are broader and its calculations are more comprehensive. A careful reading of the size of cooperation between China and several nearby prominent countries shows Beijing’s interest in keeping its relations diversified and its windows open to more than one direction. We can look for example at the value of trade exchange between China and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey.

The figures confirm the Sleeping Giant’s interest in revitalizing its relations with all these countries, especially since the “Belt and Road” initiative is based on linking continents and countries together with the flow of goods and investments, and not by stirring up hostilities.

The agreement between China and Iran raises a question about Russia. Where does Moscow stand in this cooperation? It is too early to talk about the axis of China - Iran - Russia. What about the relations between Tehran and Moscow, as the two capitals now coexist on the Syrian soil?

Many questions arise. It is too early to have accurate answers and conclusions. We are talking about cooperation between two different systems and two different experiences.

When the coup triumphed in Iran in 1979, the Chinese Revolution had blown out its thirtieth candle. When Khomeini tightened his grip over the country, it was three years since Mao Zedong’s decline in China.

When the names of Rafsanjani, Khalkhali and others were common in Tehran, Beijing was living in the shadow of an extraordinary leader named Deng Hsiao Ping.

What is meant by an exceptional leader is that the man was obsessed with the future of his country, not its past, and that he was ready to make difficult, necessary, albeit unpopular decisions.

Deng was a legitimate son of the revolution and its regime. He was on Mao’s side in the long march and many battles. He also paid the price for the harsh mood of the great master, especially when he was expelled in the years of the “Cultural Revolution” and sent away for “rehabilitation.”

Deng was obsessed with progress. He had witnessed the French experience, as he worked in one of its automobile factories. He had also seen Russia under Joseph Stalin. He knew that victories remain mere slogans, rather untruthful, unless they translate into an improvement in the citizen’s standard of living.

He realized the importance of waging a relentless war on poverty and catching up with global development on the scientific and technological front.

For this purpose, Deng had to make a big and very dangerous decision to prevent Mao from running the country from his tomb. He was confident that China’s diseases needed new treatments and fresh mindsets, and that the old ideological remedies would make his country miss the opportunity to catch up with the era.

Nobody has the right to prevent time from running. Change is the only constant. China would not be here today had it succumbed to the Red Book.

Revolutions are born at a particular place and time. But time changes, and with it dictionaries, vocabulary and approaches.

Iran is trying to revive the fire of the revolution, afraid of any change. But any success to obstruct the river of change is only temporary.

History says so – it is the higher college for experiences and lessons.

Iran is bound to change. Closer cooperation with China will push it further in this direction.

China did not become the “factory of the world” through ideological purity. It was transformed by science, technology and modernization.

If Iran gets seriously involved in the Chinese approach, then it will engage in production, competition and development, instead of penetrating the maps with militias and drones.

China soothed the fire of the revolution by placing it at the service of the state project. Who knows, Tehran might draw the same conclusions if it seriously used Iranian fire in the Chinese kitchen. An Iranian Deng is much needed, even if he comes late.

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