Iran, a country autonomous of no foreign hegemony, no reliance’s, no debts, with huge natural resource reservoirs, world’s 10th largest steel producer is seen to be rampike with choking sanctions and crippling economy but is seen as a golden egg for the power hegemonic states all over the world like Turkey, China, India, and Russia, etc. The ramification of struggling sanctions led Iran from 15% oil reserves in October 2019 to 9.5% today.
With huge natural reservoirs, strong anti-American sentiments, and crippling economy, Iran seemed to be easy prey for China as Westerners often lament China for its Debt foreign policy. China has invested $400 Billion in Chahbahar port, dropping India out of the picture where India was investing $500 Million in Iran but now China, bulging claws into the region led to such huge investment in several industrial, transportation, energy, and Free Trade Zone (FTZs) ventures. The Chahbahar project will initially start with the 638 km venture of errant Chahbahar-Zahedan line and then including the Zaranj in Afghanistan lately, latter include many SEZs and industrial growth.
The anti-American edge of the deal drives the USA keen attention over the deal. It would bolster China’s new digital currency e-RMB and DCEP as a way to bypass American financial systems, and reduce the power of the dollar. It would also serve to benefit the world’s most voracious energy consumer and provide a mechanism to sell Iranian oil while evading US sanctions policy. China’s strategic investment together with military cooperation would boost one of the most anti-American powers, threaten American allies in the Middle East from Riyadh to Jerusalem, and provide Chinese companies preferred access to trillions of dollars in untapped hydrocarbons and markets.
CHAHBAHAR PROJECT VS CPEC:
As both the projects as primarily initiated by China and have almost similar ramifications for China but still an insight would highlight vital ponders that are very important to note:
- MIDDLE EAST: Chahbahar project will pave way for China to enter the Middle East through Iraq and Eurasian states like Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, etc. and that makes the USA and its close allies very keen and disturbed as it will lessen USA hegemony in the Middle East and Iran will start to evade sanctions and China will start trading in the MENA region. CPEC doesn’t provide a way to the Middle East for China.
- TALIBAN ISSUE: The route of CPEC that leads from Gwadar to Central Asia doesn’t connect the Taliban area. There has been a surging disturbance between Kabul government and Taliban and Chahbahar port cannot lead to Central Asia without Taliban involvement and that will create problems for China so, CPEC has a slight edge over Chahbahar port.
- CARGO ISSUE: Gwadar port in CPEC is capable of loading 300-400 Million tons of cargo at a time and is the world’s deepest warm current natural port. Whereas Chahbahar port has a capacity of 15 Million tons cargo capacity so Gwadar port will be a quite busy port and most of the cargo would take a lead from CPEC.
- NATURAL RESOURCES: Iran is a huge bulk of natural resources, uranium, and hydrocarbons. It has a huge reservoir of natural gas, oil, and coal. China would be more inclined towards the rich minerals of Iran than Pakistan so Chahbahar port may have leverage over CPEC in this regard as the investment figure manifests.
Iran is an Anti-USA country, it overlooks Jerusalem, Saudi Arabia, has a bulk of rich minerals, sympathies of the Middle East, Kurds, Turks, and Syrians. China will get the advantage of Iran’s positive relations in the MENA region and would trade there and increase its hegemony in the region. Chahbahar and CPEC can be sister-projects with quite similar ventures, ambitions, and flagships.