China and Iran have been increasing their strategic partnership which may hurt the Indian regional motives in the Asia.
India and China have been two emerging economies of 21st century and both states have been striving for having regional dominance in the Asian continent.To counter China’s rise, India and US have been engaged in strategic partnership as China has been increasing its influence in the region through its strategy, ‘String of Pearls’, according to the Western perspective. India has also been trying to keep its relations with both the US and Iran. US has been enjoying its status of sole hegemon since post-cold war era whereas Iran is another emerging Shiite power, rich in oil resources and strategically very significant for India.
India had signed agreement regarding developing rail link from Iran (Chahbahar) to Zahedan (Afghanistan) in 2016. But after four years of agreement , India fails to proceed on this project. This rail link had to be built by India and Iran, but now, only Iran will bear all its finances to complete this project. This project was also in the interest of India as Chahbahar project can provide access to Afghanistan and Central Asian states for trade purposes. The US may be reason behind this behaviour of India as Iran has been suffering from US sanctions, so India can faced such sanctions if she showed any sort of closeness to Iran. No matter what, India has itself left the vacuum and this has been filled by China.
China and Iran had laid the foundation of agreement in the year 2016 and according to different reports, Iran and China are near to finalize this pending agreement. This twenty five years partnership will include comprehensive trade and military partnership,i.e. infrastructure, oil and gas and transportation and to implement this agreement, China will invest $400 billion. After implementation of this project, Iran will be able to restore its economy which has been crippled by US sanctions. This situation is really alarming for the US hegemony at both regional and global stages. China has been a threat to US’ supremacy and vicinity between Tehran and Beijing is also raising concerns for the US as Iran is also a rival state.
Under Obama’s tenure, US dealt with the Iran nuclear program by opting rational approach. But Trump renounced the deal and definitely now sanctions have been over from the US and UN. After that Iran has improved itself in economic and finance sector and China is further adding to it.China has been at loggerheads in South China sea with other western Pacific states, recent stand-off between China and Indian in Galwan valley so China needs more allies to strengthen its hold on the region. China is not just limited to its own region but it has been moving beyond, i.e. Investment in African continent and presence in the Djibouti, presence at Gwadar port and now presence at Chahbahar port.
China’s presence at Gwadar port was already alarming India and to overcome this troubling situation, India had joined hands with Iran on Chahbahar port. But India has lost this opportunity and now it will become more troublesome as China an emerging economic power is with Iran. It is the fact that Iran is an oil rich state and India is also dependent on it and now if India shows any sort of aggression ,Iran and China will block Persian Gulf so this is a huge impediment to Indian and US interests in the region. According to an academic, “Iran and China both view this deal as a strategic partnership in not just expanding their own interests but confronting the US. It is the first of its kind for Iran, keen on having a world power as an ally”.
Iran has fostered strategic partnership with China to tackle the US in the region. Although US has withdrew its forces from the region, but if China is there than automatically US will be there as US wants to preserve its hegemony at global level that has been affecting by China. Conferring to NYT report, “The draft agreement with Iran shows that unlike most countries, China feels it is in a position to defy the United States, powerful enough to withstand American penalties, as it has in the trade war waged by President Trump. “US and China have been waging trade war and regarding this both states opted tit for tat mechanism. In response to strategic partnership of China and Iran, US will put huge cost to those Chinese companies, who will be facilitating Iran.
According to NYT report, “For decades now, the US forces have dominated the Middle East’s security paradigm, but this agreement could now provide China with a foothold in the region’. Such situation is alarming for the US and India as China has now made investments in infrastructure in Iran and later on it is also possibility that China may install military equipment in near future. If we recall China investment in African continent was initially based on infrastructure to develop the region. But later on China built its base in Djibouti and also installed military apparatus.
World’s main Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCS) have been controlled by US and Strait of Hormuz has been one of the crucial SLOC which provide route towards Persian Gulf (one of the busiest trade route). Presence of China in the Persian Gulf may threaten US and India as she showed intentions to build port at ‘Jask’, situated outside the Strait of Hormuz. This route has strategic significance as world’s almost half oil trade passes through this passage. Thus carry prime importance for India and US.
Consequently , India , who has been balancing its relations with Iran and US to achieve regional motives. But now India fails to maintain this balance as she kicked out from Chahbahar port by Iran. The void , created by India, has been filled by China so this is a huge obstruction to Indian interests; strategic, economic and political. Now its up to India, how she tackle this huge setback as India still has offer from Iran and according to them both New Delhi and Beijing are of huge prominence. In coming future, it remains to be seen that how she will get out of such troubled waters.