As their foreign ministers exchanged visits to deepen their partnership in the past year, Iran and China are now “facing a new horizon of cooperation”, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
Khatibzadeh stated besides the geographical proximity between Iran and China, it is history, culture, politics, and people-to-people relations that connect the two nations which have been connected by the Silk Road since ancient times.
Notably, the establishment of their comprehensive strategic partnership in January 2016 marked “a very important moment, and a turning point in terms of creating new pillars for the bilateral relationship”, he added.
China and Iran signed a comprehensive cooperation plan during a visit paid by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Tehran last year when the two countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.
When Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian visited China in mid-January, the two sides jointly initiated the implementation of the 25-year plan after “a very comprehensive and lengthy discussion between the two foreign ministers”, the spokesperson noted.
With recent developments in bilateral ties, the two countries now have “a good start to go into more details” of how they can implement their consensus in different sections and fields, Khatibzadeh continued.
Iran has always supported China in its core concerns over the one-China policy and other issues, while China has also assisted Iran in different fields like the fight against COVID-19 in this very hard time, the spokesman said.
The Iran-China relationship not only benefits the two countries, but also the region and the whole world, as they jointly confront unilateralism and “the policy of coercion that Washington is trying to dictate to the international arena”, he added.
Khatibzadeh, also the president of the Center for Public Diplomacy at the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said that it is a necessity to take into consideration people-to-people contacts and communications, and carefully “draft, craft and calibrate” and enhance ties in public diplomacy.
Both countries have decided to cooperate to bring their people closer, he added, highlighting the need for Iranians and Chinese to better understand each other.
The two countries have been proactively promoting people-to-people exchanges. Iran has decided to waive visas for Chinese tourists, and now new Chinese movies are hitting screens in Iran. They have launched new Chinese language courses in Iranian universities, and Persian in Chinese universities, with frequent interaction between institutions of the two sides.
Additionally, various exhibitions and fairs have been held by Chinese organizers in Iran, while Iran also plans to organize similar events in China, Khatibzadeh noted.
More importantly, Iran and China are trying to help each other confront misinformation campaigns targeting the two countries, launched by the United States and other Western countries, he said, adding, “We have to work together more to avoid this propaganda that is trying to sabotage our relations.”
With regard to the plots to politicize “this very common sports event” — the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, Khatibzadeh stated Iran has repeatedly condemned such attempts “to misuse this opportunity to advance their ill political agenda”.
“We not only condemn them, but we are also trying to orchestrate a voice in our region and around the globe that everybody should seize this very opportunity of the Winter Olympics to work together,” he continued.
Stressing that “the spirit of Olympics dictates everybody attend regardless of differences”, Khatibzadeh announced Iran will participate in the Beijing Winter Olympics and “represent at the highest level possible”.