With a new trade and military pact with Iran, China doesn't just thumb its nose at US sanctions—it steamrolls over them. The New York Times reports that it has obtained an 18-page document outlining the new partnership between the two countries, which would "vastly expand Chinese presence in banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of other projects" in return for Iran supplying China with oil over the next 25 years. The document—dated last month and labeled "final version"—also sets out plans for increased military cooperation and intelligence-sharing, which the Times notes will be "viewed with alarm in Washington," The document outlines more than 100 projects, including airports, free-trade zones, and a new 5G telecommunications network in Iran.
A State Department spokeswoman accused Beijing of "undermining its own stated goal of promoting stability and peace" by "allowing or encouraging Chinese companies to conduct sanctionable activities with the Iranian regime," though analysts say Beijing clearly feels it is ready to withstand American sanctions. The partnership was first proposed by China in 2016 and insiders say Tehran stepped up efforts to forge a deal after the US withdrew from the nuclear pact and tensions between Washington and Beijing grew. "Iran has some leverage here,” Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of business publication Bourse and Bazaar, tells the Wall Street Journal. "Iran is using the moment of increased China-US tensions to put pressure on Beijing to finally agree on a long-term framework for bilateral ties." (Read more China stories.)