Silk Road and China-Iran cooperation

Tehran, April 25, IRNA – More than two thousand years ago, a famous Chinese envoy Zhang Qian in Han Dynasty explored the Silk Road lying across the Asian-European nations. Since then, people from countries along the road gradually turned this business road into a network of trade, culture, technology and civilizations.

Iran and China, countries both with thousands years of civilization, are among the major players along the ancient Silk Road. Though it, grape, broad bean, pomegranate, spinach, onion and other special products were introduced into China from Iran, and China’s tea, ginger, mulberry, peach, apricot and orange were brought into Iran. Iran has been an important market and transportation hub of Chinese silk and chinaware. The incense and jewelry made in Iran are warmly welcomed in China. Furthermore, one of China’s cultural symbols, the lion, was also passed through Iran to China. Its Chinese pronunciation, SHI ZI, was actually originated from the Farsi language. It goes without saying that the ancient Silk Road is a significant factor in not only prospering economic ties between the two countries, but also promoting exchanges of civilizations between the east and west.

In October 2013, Chinese president Mr. Xi Jinping put forward the strategic initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road). After more than one year’s preparation, the initiative has come to the stage of implementation. In March 2015, the Chinese government issued the Visions and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. As stated in the paper, the initiative aims at strengthening policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds. It intends to create a new regional cooperation platform and draw the related countries to make plans together and benefit together.

This initiative will not only add energy and vitality to the ancient Silk Road, but will also give new impetus to China-Iran cooperation. In recent years, Chinese president Xi Jinping and his Iranian counterpart President Rouhani have held several meetings and reached important consensus on strengthening bilateral relations. Under their guidance, China-Iran cooperation has seen a quick development in almost every area. China and Iran are both counties with important regional influence and comparative advantage. Closer and broader cooperation between the two countries will surely benefit the two peoples.

China and Iran have been enjoying long-term traditional friendship. The Belt and Road initiative will create a historic opportunity to deepen and broaden our cooperation and development. Particularly in the fields with established advantages such as transportation, telecommunication infrastructure, energy and resources, trade and investment, early harvests could be expected. I believe the Belt and Road initiative will bring a brighter prospect of cooperation between the two countries, and start a new chapter of friendship between the two peoples.

This article was written by Pang Sen. Pang Sen is Chinese Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran.