Iran–China Relations: Separating Fact from Fiction


The leaking in recent months of an alleged 25-year economic and military cooperation agreement between China and Iran has sparked intense debate among Western and Middle Eastern policymakers, pundits, and journalists. If indeed signed, the agreement would significantly alter the balance of power in the Middle East, potentially draw China into the Saudi–Iranian conflict, and add one more dimension to tension between the United States and China. The impact of a signed agreement would be magnified by the likely failure of US attempts to persuade the United Nations Security Council to extend an arms embargo that prevents Iran from acquiring conventional weapons.

Discussion about the alleged draft agreement inevitably involves debate about China’s evolving Middle East policy. Broadly, two camps have emerged in the debate about what is real and what is shadow boxing in reports about the agreement. One school of thought takes the reported draft at face value and focuses on what it would mean for the Middle East as a region as well as individual Middle Eastern states. The other school sees the leaking of the alleged draft as a tactic employed by Iran and China in a bid to advance their separate objectives. Middle East Institute scholars James M. Dorsey and Asif Shuja will discuss the two different camps. In doing so, they will provide a basis for discussion of Iran’s and China’s perspectives on creating a regional security architecture in the region that could reduce tension and help ensure that regional conflicts do not spin out of control.

Join us on Zoom on 30 September at 4pm (SGT). All are welcome to participate. An e-invite will be sent to you closer to the event date.

This event is free, however, registration is compulsory. Find more information and registration here:

Our Speakers:
Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior research fellow focused on the Middle East and North Africa who publishes widely in peer-reviewed journals as well as non-academic publications. A veteran award-winning foreign correspondent for four decades in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the United States writing for publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the Financial Times, James has met a multitude of the region’s leaders.

Dr. Asif Shuja is an Iran expert whose research focus include Iranian domestic politics, the Iranian nuclear issue, Iran’s foreign policy and Iran’s regional role. He was previously associated with the International Center for Strategic Studies, Abu Dhabi, as a non-resident fellow. His other research affiliations include the Indian Council of World Affairs, where he worked as a research fellow and the Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi where he was attached with the Nuclear Security Project of the Department of Atomic Energy. Asif obtained his PhD on Iran’s political power struggle from the Centre for West Asian (Middle East) Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is the author of the book, India‑Iran Relations under the Shadow of the Iranian Nuclear Issue.

For more info of the event, please visit our website.


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