Iranian president to visit China at Xi Jinping’s request

The Cradle, February 13, 2023 — Bilateral ties between the two sanctioned nations are an essential part of Raisi’s “Look to the East” government policy.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will visit China this week at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Beijing announced on 12 February.

The visit, set to last from 14 to 16 February, will include bilateral talks between the two leaders, the signing of cooperation documents between the delegations of the two countries, and a joint meeting of the presidents with Iranian and Chinese businessmen.

This will mark Raisi’s first visit to China since taking office in 2021. He last met with Xi during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in September in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Last year, Iran was officially included in the SCO as a permanent member. The nation later applied to join BRICS – two international organizations in which China and Russia play a significant role.

China remains Iran’s largest trading partner and the leading buyer of its oil. Over the last ten months, oil exports from Tehran to Beijing reached $12.6 billion.

Iran also plays a crucial role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a mega-infrastructure and economic initiative launched by Beijing to link the economies of Europe, Asia, and Africa, with an eye on expanding to Latin America.

In 2021, both countries signed a 25-year strategic cooperation pact that included “political, strategic, and economic” components.

Raisi’s visit to the Asian giant is part of his administration’s “Look to the East” policy, which seeks to build alliances with non-western world powers with similar political structures to Iran and oppose US-led western domination of international affairs.

Speaking to the Global Times, the executive director of the Research Center for the Belt and Road at Lanzhou University, Zhu Yongbiao, said of the visit: “Cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will give China and Iran more space for cooperation. It is foreseeable that after this meeting, China-Iran relations will enter a new and higher stage.”

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