Thrilled to launch this new paper that puts the China-Iran partnership in regional context.

@yarbatman and I broke down economic and security data on China and Iran vs. the wider Middle East.

We didn’t find an “alliance” to defy the US 👇

We took a data-led comparative approach that looks at Iran, KSA, UAE, Iraq, Pakistan, and Turkey.

We compiled 20 years of data:
-Debt Finance
-Contractor Revenue
-Migrant Labor
-Arms Sales
-Military Exercises

As a bonus we also have the FIRST English translation of the leaked draft “comprehensive strategic partnership” that set off a firestorm on Iranian social media
Across sectors, Iran lags behind its neighbors when it comes to Chinese partnership, contradicting conventional wisdom that Iran “dependent” on China due to sanctions. But sanctions—which China voted for—have also worked on the PRC. This is true from oil to weapons 4/
We discuss how China has taken to routing oil through Malaysia to dodge sanctions. Reputational cost matters more to China now than it ever has, and Iran is increasingly a liability. The kerfuffle with Meng Wanzhou and Huawei in Iran is a famous case. 5/
China is also more materially involved in security with Iran’s sworn enemies. China won’t sell Iran armed drones, but it’s sold them to both the KSA and UAE, which have used them to combat Iranian-backer Houthis in Yemen. China also has drone factors in KSA and Pakistan. 6/
Factories*. The draft CSP reflects these anxieties by calling for joint production, defense industry collaboration, and more joint exercises. 7/
Speaking of joint exercises, Iran is also far behind. Pakistan has gotten the lion’s share as it’s on the border with Xinjiang. And year that China has had a serious drill with Iran, it’s had a serious drill with KSA, sometimes only weeks apart. 8/
The recent push isn’t a bid to defy the US, although it’s useful for both countries to poke the US. Iran has become a lever by which China can de-escalate tensions with the US, which will always be a higher priority. 9/
And although China has a nominally balanced approach to the region, based on the numbers it appears Iran’s neighbors are a higher priority for China. This recent push for the CSP reflects Iranian anxieties on that front. 10/
Also, go check out what @yarbatman does with the rest of his time over at @BourseBazaar. Excellent excellent content on business in Iran/Central Asia and regular reports on Chinese economic engagement with Iran.
You can follow @Lucille_Greer_.
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