by Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with PressTV
In the first part of this article, titled Nixon ‘opened’ China, but only socialist superpower China could ‘open’ Iran, I discussed the historic role reversal: it’s the position of the superpower China which now counts the most, and not the the attitude of the United States.
The 25-year Iran-China pact is actually an undercounting as it is essentially – to quote China’s foreign minister – “permanent”. Western media foolishly sees Iran and China as different as apples and bowling balls, and thus they are only taking their first timid step towards understanding how Tehran and Beijing have already broken through the finish line tape.
It’s easy to examine the consternation of the BBC or The New York Times, but I thought it would be interesting to analyse the take of perhaps the top oil trade media, OilPrice, via their article The Iran-China Axis Is A Fast Growing Force In Oil Markets. Part one of this article addressed their take – more consternation, predictably – but it’s necessary to ask: why are even supposedly neutral, objective, rational and profit-oriented business media so bewildered and lost in their analyses of post-1979 Iran and post-1949 China?
The problem for them is that I may be able to grasp an argument based on economics and politics, but it’s hard for me to understand viewing historical developments solely via a lens of fear, paranoia and – above all – a zero-sum view of business, politics and human life. What OilPrice’s article ultimately relies on – like so many others of its ilk – is a hardened intolerance for other non-Western (some today may say “non-White”) cultures.
That type of a fundamentally emotional and anti-intellectual mindset may motivate many pro-imperialists in Western high finance but they do not motivate Iran and China, two countries whose essentially socialist basis is light-years ahead of the tribalist “identity politics” foolishly held as the the ultimate achievement of Western liberal democracy.
This is not a knee-jerk “snowflake” argument – simply look at the starting point of OilPrice and I’m sure you’ll see it is not an unusual foundation for Western media analyses (regardless of the skin tone of the journalist) of Iran: The author immediately claimed in his very first paragraph that Iranians have a “radical view of non-believers,” which is such a radically right-wing view of Iran that it is barely worth an eye roll, much less serious consideration. All that needs to be said is that it’s possible that the author does not know any Christians or Jews, nor have any sincere familiarity with these two fundaments of Islamic thought. Certainly, he has kept far away from Muslims because what he is describing is not anywhere close to the mainstream view held by Muslims in Iran or any other nation where Muslims practice. It’s also a scare tactic, certainly, but the author himself is seemingly scared out of his logic – this is not Iran’s or Islam’s fault, of course.
But what kind of tolerance should be expected from this longtime oil man who, when he looks at the fabulous civilisations of Iran and China sees only one thing: people who oppose the United States. For the author Iran and China are unmotivated by anything positive, human or redeeming, but instead solely by antipathy towards the United States. Yet whether one reads trade publications like OilPrice or broader Western business publications like The Economist, The Financial Times or Les Echos this arrogant, fearful and ultimately hostile ideology is blatantly repeated over and over.
Contrarily, Iranian and Chinese businessmen simply wonder why the West refuses to do mutually-beneficial, productive, long-term business? But good, fair business is not what capitalism is – capitalism’s surpluses primarily rely on the savings provided by imperialist plunder, and then the subsequent masking of this reality of stolen resources, stolen wages and thwarted lives and cultures with a tin mass media halo. This is not a radical view of “capitalism with Western characteristics”, but an increasingly accepted view even within the 21st century West.
And this is why it is not surprising that this article on Sino-Iranian bilateral relations takes a lengthy turn into fear mongering over a Chinese take-back of Taiwan. We must remember that this trade publication puts selling oil (at as high a price as possible) above all else – above fair politics, above tolerance of the cultures of other people, above fair business – therefore OilPrice is always all-too happy to hysterically fearmong if it can raise the price of oil a buck.
The article mentions the recent and shockingly historic first Joe Biden-era China-US bilateral summit, where China responded to unprecedented diplomatic insults with an unprecedented, lengthy and entirely correct defense of the modern triumvirate I referred to as the “Allies of Sovereignty” – Iran, China and Russia.
Referring to that momentous resetting is entirely correct, but what is not correct is how the author makes the totally spurious claim quite openly that China’s stockpiling of oil – an act which he acknowledged earlier was something that, “it just makes sense for it build inventories” – was actually in preparation for an invasion of Taiwan as early as 2025?
We need to remember when reading their “objective” analyses that this is just what Western business media does: war, for imperialist countries, is a major money-making industry and thus OilPrice and their money-grubbing brethren demonise, stoke fear and cheerlead for policies which are as violent, as expensive and as destructive as possible. Nothing personal – it’s just business media.
This is why readers should remember that the conclusions of such articles are always so predictable: “…the likelihood of some type of oil shortage is becoming increasingly likely,” i.e. the price of oil should be higher than what it is now – which is all that OilPrice really cares about – because geopolitically the world is “a tinder box, that only needs a spark”.
It really isn’t.
As a result of this mutually-beneficial deal China and Iran are way, way, way more stable for the next 25 years.
That’s a good thing, but Western business media is looking for profit and not for good things.
The West’s weaponisation of the Iran-China deal to foment war has no chance of succeeding
Iran didn’t give up “too much” because they place their demand for sovereign independence over the best possible business deal – thus they simply must accept paying a premium. The “Allies of Sovereignty” is only three nations, after all. We’ve been living in a pro-globalisation world for three decades, and the lack of civic pride makes Iran’s determination even more costly, monetarily.
China has established the indispensable node for its Belt and Road Initiative, from a foreign policy/foreign economic policy perspective, and from a domestic perspective it has assured itself enough energy independence to keep growing as it chooses for the next quarter century.
Is a mutual defense pact between the two next? Frankly, Iran doesn’t need it.
There is zero chance of another Western-orchestrated invasion of Iran, following the victory of the War of Sacred Defense against Iraq and its Western (and Soviet) axis. Iran has very basic military needs because they aren’t trying to invade anyone, after all. They have achieved military parity in the only arena which matters – its own borders – and a US invasion of Iran would be Vietnam on steroids. There have already been enormous nationwide “no war with Iran” protests in the US – after the assassination of Qassem Soleimani in 2020.
Frankly, China doesn’t need it. Even if they did retake Taiwan the US would blink even faster than they did with Syria. Anyway, the international community has clearly sided with China since 1971 – Taiwan is not a country, nor are they in the United Nations, nor can they even join any UN sub-organisations. Taiwan is a province of China, even if the US thinks it is like the Cuban exile parts of southern Florida – i.e., a permanent place for fascists who lost their civil war to congregate and plot to stall political modernity and peace. Fear mongering about bloody invasion is just a way to sell more guns and oil, and now also a way to distract from this Sino-Iranian victory. It’s absurd: since WWII the West has lost in North Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria but mighty China should be worried?
The pact is what it openly claims it is: a multi-decade diplomatic, military and economic pact of peaceful cooperation. So on it’s own it promotes peace. And indirectly the pact is a major step towards peace and security for the world – from Western aggression. Take on one and you inevitably take on the other, and taking on either would lead to disaster for the Western aggressors. The world can’t allow that, and the world can only embrace the peacemaking Iran-China deal.
China’s “opening” of Iran is historically significant in so many ways to count, including the peaceful stability it helps ensure for the world via drawing two ethnically and religiously different parts of Asia closer together: As I detailed in Part 1 of this article, it is so very excitingly “woke” and modern. In broader terms of human history its greatest significance is: it’s a victory for socialist democracy and a huge, glaring failure for liberal democracy.
The JCPOA on Iran’s nuclear energy program would never have stopped this Iran-China alliance – Iran would never go fully into the Western camp for at least as long as the rest of the Muslim world is under the West’s thumb – but it could have at least partially counterbalanced it. Now the West is in an even worse bargaining position than before, but who wants the terrible preconditions the West demands for cooperation, and then who even expects the West to actually keep their word? They don’t do diplomacy – they do international piracy, still.
Iran waited a very long time to pick a camp, and yet they have still retained an amount of independence which almost no other nation its size can dream of today. However, as always, to write that China is being welcomed as saviours or without skepticism by Iranians would be a hilarious overstatement. What Iranians cherish most is their independence, and this is enshrined in its political and economic structures post-1979.
Iranian civil servants have chosen a wise path, and it can never be said that they did not genuinely offer the West a diplomatic path. Now their duty is to properly administer the bounty of this cooperation in a way which the Iranian people approve of. The Iranian media will be watching closely, as always.
China’s “opening” of Iran isn’t a threat to Iran, to China nor to any other non- or anti-imperialist nation. It’s only a threat to those who idealise an aristocratic past, or a soulless and ineffectual technocratic present, and to those who insist that Iran and China revert to being as unstable, despondent and unpeaceful as they were prior to their modern, socialist-inspired revolutions.
To such offers Iran and China have permanently responded: “No deal.”
Lastly, this article repeatedly stressed the incredibly animating ideological components at play in this historic international decision. It’s a shame that so many analysts completely disregard modern mankind’s longstanding ideological debates about capitalist or socialist economic practice, the cultural effects of imperialism, and what should be truly classified as “progressive” or “reactionary” politics. There isn’t a new international order, but there is clearly a second international order now on offer – it should be openly compared and contrasted.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.