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"China: A Short-Term Solution for Iran"

View of a Sinopec logo in Beijing, Nov. 1, 2007. China's Sinopec signed a 2 billion dollar contract with Iran to pump oil from the Yadavaran onshore field in SW Iran.
AP Photo

"China: A Short-Term Solution for Iran"

Op-Ed, Iran Review

January 20, 2010

Author: Kayhan Barzegar, Former Associate, Project on Managing the Atom/International Security Program, 2010–2011; Former Research Fellow, Project on Managing the Atom/international Security Program, 2007–2010

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy


"China's foreign policy is an attempt to balance its short-, medium- and long-term interests and goals an example of which can be clearly seen in Beijing's position-taking vis-à-vis Iran's nuclear issue ever since the crisis started. On this basis, China has tried to satisfy both sides in one way or the other. Having voted for many anti-Iran resolutions in the past, Beijing suddenly shifts its policy in favor of Tehran at a sensitive juncture. But what should be important for Iran is that China's opposition to adoption of a new resolution against Iran could only delay the sanctions against IRI not halt them. In other words, using the China card is not a permanent solution for Iran.

China's opposition is in fact to serve its short- and medium-term interests but Beijing has also long-term interests which it would not sacrifice with the escalation of pressures. The point is that China would benefit from possible new sanctions against Iran because Tehran would turn to Beijing for its needed goods under the sanctions.

At this juncture of short-term interests, the Chinese must even be happy over slapping new sanctions against Iran but as an emerging global power, China has also some long-term interests in cooperation with the international community and is committed to principles that cannot be ignored. In this manner, China would eventually be forced to follow the wish of the international community...."

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Full text of this publication is available at:

For Academic Citation:

Barzegar, Kayhan. "China: A Short-Term Solution for Iran." Iran Review, January 20, 2010.

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