Ibrahim Raisi at Peking University: China, and its impact on Tehran’s accession to the BRICS

The significance of the tenth foreign visit of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi to China comes in less than a year and a half of the life of his government and his speech at Peking University.  This is the first visit of an Iranian president to China since 2018, and it comes at a time when both countries are facing internal and external challenges and pressures. Raisi’s visit to China is the first foreign visit by the President (Ayatollah Sayyid Ibrahim Raisi), during the year and a half of his assumption of the presidency.  His visit to the capital, Beijing, lasted three days, in response to an official invitation from his Chinese counterpart “Xi Jinping”.  Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi had met his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on his eighth foreign visit during the (Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan) in 2022, and in the bilateral meeting between them, Chinese President Xi Jinping officially invited  to his Iranian counterpart “Ibrahim Raisi” to visit Beijing.

 After the Chinese-Gulf summit in December 2022, Chinese-Iranian relations witnessed severe tension, following what Iran described as the positions raised during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia and his meeting with many leaders of Arab countries, which caused Tehran’s resentment and anger to ease Tehran’s anger, Beijing sent Chinese Vice Premier “Hu Chunhua” to Iran, who, during his meeting with the Iranian president, stressed China’s determination to develop its comprehensive strategic partnership with Iran. Iran summoned the Chinese ambassador to Tehran, to the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to express its strong dissatisfaction with the statement of the Chinese-Gulf summit, which included the status of the islands (Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb) and China’s courtesy of the Gulf people at the expense of the Iranians in accordance with Iranian anger. In September 2022, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, “Nasser Kanaani”, confirmed that:

 “All allegations made in the final statement of the Gulf Cooperation Council regarding the three Iranian islands are rejected”

 This is what Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi confirmed in December 2022, that:

 “Some of the positions that were raised during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the Gulf region in December 2022 caused “discontent and discontent among the people and government in Iran”

The most prominent thing that caught my eye and my reading of the scene analytically during the visit of Iranian President “Ibrahim Raisi” to China on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, was his specific request to deliver an official, public and popular speech for him at Peking University, China, with the growing interest of officials in Tehran in particular to go to Peking University as a  The mother university in China, which enjoys a special high status among the Chinese people.  Although the official reception ceremony held by Chinese President “Xi Jinping” for the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, “Ayatollah Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi” took place in the National People’s Congress building, the President’s choice of “Raisi” for Peking University in particular had Iranian clear connotations and indications to attract more admirers of Iranian policies among many categories of Chinese students, while expanding the base of those interested in learning the Persian language, and sending them on long scholarships to Tehran while preparing special learning programs for them, within the framework of what is known as Iranian soft power in managing its foreign relations file, especially with  Great powers, such as China.

 Also, on a personal and analytical level, I remember very well the selected Chinese official invitation addressed to me personally, when I was studying in Beijing to meet “the official of the Iranian nuclear file at the Iranian embassy in Beijing”, and I remember very well this fruitful meeting with one of the most prominent officials of the Iranian nuclear file in the capital, Beijing.  And the world, which I focused during my interview with him on his country’s position on the Arab Gulf countries, and whether they care about Iran’s nuclear program in support of Washington and the West, or that the Gulf’s focus may be focused on other regions and circles of interest.

 What caught my attention the most during the visit of the official of the Iranian nuclear file to Peking University and my invitation to meet him was the presence of a Jewish colleague of mine from the United States of America who was studying with me at Peking University in China at the time.  To meet the Iranian nuclear file official at the Iranian embassy in Beijing with me.  This is what stopped me strongly, given his presence was for purely intelligence and security reasons, as it became clear to me after recording and filming the entire meeting of the Iranian nuclear file official, and he asked purely intelligence questions at the time of interest to the American side, such as: Can Iran allow the complete dismantling of its nuclear program and facilities in order to lift the sanctions on it?  And rapprochement naturally with the world?  This raised a big question mark for me, by asking about the reasons for China’s invitation to a Jewish colleague studying at Peking University to meet the Iranian nuclear file official at the Iranian embassy in Beijing.

 It was also worth mentioning to me, the insistence of the official of the Iranian nuclear file at the Iranian embassy in Beijing, during my meeting with him, to speak Persian only, even when answering any question directed to me in English or Chinese, with the presence of a Persian translator with him.  Which I interpreted at the time as that this matter became intentional so that none of his statements would be misunderstood and interpreted in a manner other than their true intention and meaning, especially from Washington and the West. Therefore, the safest solution is to speak in his mother tongue, Persian, in response to any question.

Here, an analytical link occurred in my mind between the importance of Peking University in China and Iran’s insistence on being there, given the seriousness of the position of the “Iranian nuclear file official at the Iranian embassy in Beijing” and the political speech delivered by Iranian President “Ibrahim Raisi” upon his visit to Beijing and his insistence on delivering a speech there.  In particular.  An analysis of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi’s speech at the Chinese University of Peking on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, came at a gathering of officials, professors, and students of Peking University, to send a stern message to the United States of America and the West, indicating that agreement between Beijing and Tehran is the only way to international pluralism.  In his speech, he specifically emphasized:

   “A new world has begun to emerge and the old order is disappearing,” he added, adding: “Iran’s strength is a source for building security and its regional capabilities support peace and stability in countries”

 Prior to Ibrahim Raisi’s visit to Beijing, Raisi published an important article, under the title: “Old friends are the best partner for a bright future,” in the People’s Daily of the ruling party in China, stressing Tehran’s determination to advance the strategic partnership on the political and economic levels with Beijing.

 We find that the most important goal of the Iranian President Raisi’s visit to China is to thwart the US blockade and paralyze its impact on trade relations between Iran and other countries with the assertion of Iranian President “Ebrahim Raisi” during his speech at Peking University, China, that:

“Iran affirms pluralism as a global approach and a common axis of the two countries’ international positions”

 The Iranian President Raisi’s visit to China also comes within the framework of strengthening relations between Iran, China and Russia at the strategic level, with President “Ibrahim Raisi” indicating on more than one occasion and during his speech at Peking University that “this triangle constitutes the primary influencing nucleus at the international level”. In addition to the joint economic and investment cooperation between China and Tehran, we will find the file of military relations between the two sides, which was described by a senior Iranian official, by confirming that Beijing is one of Tehran’s main customers for drones, revealing his country’s intention to supply its Chinese ally with 15,000 drones.  .  Days before President Raisi’s visit to China, the senior adviser to the Iranian Minister of Intelligence confirmed that: “Iran’s military capabilities have reached a level that made China prepare to buy 15,000 drones from Tehran, given the presence of customers for Iranian drones in 90 countries around the world.”

We find that the visit of the Iranian president to China is a strategic goal for Tehran within the framework of strengthening and vitalizing relations between it and China following the strategic partnership agreement concluded between them for a period of 25 years, and it comes after the opening of a new Chinese consulate during the month of December 2022 in (Iranian Bandar Abbas region), as voted  China is against Iran’s removal from the United Nations Women’s Committee.  Bearing in mind that the strategic partnership agreement between China and Iran will allow China to lease Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf, and to deploy Chinese security forces for the first time abroad, numbering 5,000 Chinese soldiers, to protect Chinese projects in Iran, in addition to allowing the presence of more Chinese personnel and equipment to support final shipments of oil, gas and petrochemical materials from Iran to China whenever necessary and as agreed upon.

 President Ibrahim Raisi’s earlier statements came as a confirmation of Iran’s declared positions with China, during the Shanghai Cooperation and Security Organization summit, in reference to the importance of Iran’s membership in the Shanghai Organization, that: “At the regional level, Iran has membership in the Shanghai Organization, which  It created a connection with the economic infrastructure of the region, and created a good basis for communication with all Asian countries, especially China.

 President “Raisi” also confirmed, prior to his summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, that:

  “Strengthening Iran’s relations with Russia and China is a priority of his foreign policy”

 All Chinese media reported the words of the Iranian President “Ibrahim Raisi”, upon his visit to Peking University, and the Chinese state channel, CCTV, quoted Chinese President “Xi Jinping” as saying:

“In the face of the current complex changes in the world, time and history, China and Iran have supported each other and expressed their solidarity and cooperation”

 In the same context, the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry “Wang Wenbin” confirmed, in a press statement to him, that:

“The Iranian president’s visit to China will help stability in the Middle East, and it does not target any third party, and it will contribute to the well-being of the Iranian and Chinese peoples”

In light of the financial restrictions imposed by the sanctions on Iran’s financial exchanges and the return of its export revenues to the country, the accompaniment of the Ministers of Economy and the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran in the delegation accompanying President “Raisi” aims primarily to find solutions to overcome the crisis of scarcity and scarcity of hard currency in the country.

 Of course, strengthening Chinese-Iranian relations and partnership between them in various fields of cooperation and helping each other in various matters is certainly undesirable and unpopular for America and Europe and causes concern for them.  For this reason, they are concerned about President Raisi’s visit to China, and President Raisi’s visit to Moscow has faced the same objection and concern before.

 At the same time, Iran is trying to promote its importance to China, Russia and the world, such as the Iranian assertion that the Iranians’ possession of many capabilities may help them to be exploited by the countries of the giant BRICS economic bloc led by China and Russia, as confirmed by Iranian President “Ibrahim Raisi” in his statements:

 “The BRICS member states also possess capabilities that Iran can use, and one of these capabilities is in the field of energy, and Iran’s accession to the BRICS group will certainly be an important development in the economies of those BRICS member states, and in some way it will have an impact on the West’s relations with these countries”

 The most important outcome of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi’s announced visit to China was Iran’s insistence with China to follow up on the implementation of the strategic document for the next 25 years between the two countries, and to better invest the capabilities of Tehran and Batin in order to improve the level of relations between them, especially in the economic and trade field.  And the signing of twenty cooperation documents between the two countries.

 The most important thing for me is the assertions of the Chinese President, Comrade “Xi Jinping”, during his conversation with the Iranian President “Ibrahim Raisi” on respecting Iran’s territorial integrity, as well as his agreement with the Iranians on the necessity and inevitability of confronting unilateralism in the international system, and stressing the need to confront the interference of foreigners in various parts of the world.

 Here came the response of Iranian President “Ayatollah Raisi” to his Chinese counterpart “Xi Jinping” by expressing his appreciation for China’s positive and constructive role in the talks to lift the sanctions, with the agreement of the Chinese and Iranian sides on the violation of the nuclear agreement by the Americans and the failure of European countries to fulfill their obligations. Therefore, the Iranian president confirmed to his Chinese counterpart that:

 “Westerners have once again fallen into a miscalculation with regard to lifting sanctions with Iran, not realizing that Iranian Islam and its conscious people are stronger and more confident than ever before on the path of development and progress”

 During the meeting between the Chinese and Iranian presidents, Chinese President “Xi Jinping” insisted on criticizing the unilateral and tyrannical behavior of Western countries on the international arena. Comrade Chinese President “Xi Jinping” asserted literally:

  “Unfortunately, these countries still insist on the wrong approach of the Cold War era, and this has caused damage to international and global norms, peace and security”

The results of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi’s visit to China reflected good results for the Iranians, as that visit had a great impact on the reality of international political life, especially with the emergence of signs of the decline of American hegemony over the regimes in the Middle East, with the trend of many countries that had been for a long time.  It follows the policies of the United States of America and the West, in reviewing its policies, challenging the policies of American dictates, and rejecting the conditions of the European Union on it in managing its political and economic files.

 This is a reflection of the most prominent words of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi’s speech at Peking University, with his strict emphasis as a declared Iranian message of defiance, about:

  “Iran’s choice to direct its compass to the east will unveil many capitals that think in the same direction that Tehran has taken, especially since everyone has suffered from the hypocrisy of the United States of America and the European Union, and it may open before them better economic prospects and less costs”

 The strongest statement of the Iranian President “Ibrahim Raisi”, from my personal point of view, was his message, that:

  “Some countries that are wary of heading east towards China and Russia are often not decision-making countries or that their rulers are employees of the US government. They do not dare object to Washington’s projects in the region”

 The strongest public Iranian criticism and messages came from the Iranian President “Ibrahim Raisi”, that:

“Some rulers became so immersed in the relationship with America that they put their people and the level of their countries in the gutter”

 Hence, we understand, in general, the extent of the Chinese rapprochement with Iran as a single pragmatic and practical path that serves both sides. Its aim is to intensify cooperation and bloc in the face of the current American pressures, with an attempt to create a new global financial system that jumps over the system of international transfers of international currencies, known internationally as “SWIFT”. As part of the tireless efforts on its way to expand to include many countries in the world, led by a number of countries in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to get rid of American and Western financial and economic pressures around the world, especially countries such as China, Russia and Iran.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit