Al Monitor | : China is still Iran’s top trade partner, leading oil customer, a key technology exporter, a major political ally and one of the signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) still committed to the deal. All of this has given Beijing an increasingly central position in Iran’s “Look to the East” doctrine, a key foreign policy strategy actively pursued by the Islamic Republic after the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018.
The recent visit to Beijing of a senior Iranian delegation comprising the parliament speaker, ministers of economy, oil and foreign affairs, the central bank governor and senior lawmakers shows how Iran is banking on China as US sanctions are hitting the Iranian economy hard.
During those meetings, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered assurances to Speaker Ali Larijani that Beijing will continue to stick to its Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Iran, no matter recent regional and global developments. The fact that China hosted the high-ranking Iranian delegation prior to an impending visit by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia — Iran’s key regional rival and arch-foe — also highlights where Iran stands in China’s Middle East policy.
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