China is now Iran’s top trading partner

Still think China’s going to sign on to a new round of tough sanctions against Iran? Think again. China has most likely already passed the European Union to become Iran’s No. 1 trading partner, the Financial Times reports: Official figures say the EU remains Tehran’s largest commercial partner, with trade totalling $35bn in 2008, compared ...

Still think China's going to sign on to a new round of tough sanctions against Iran? Think again. China has most likely already passed the European Union to become Iran's No. 1 trading partner, the Financial Times reports:

Official figures say the EU remains Tehran’s largest commercial partner, with trade totalling $35bn in 2008, compared with $29bn with China.

But this number disguises the fact that much of Iran’s trade with the United Arab Emirates consists of goods channelled to or from China. Majid-Reza Hariri, deputy head of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce, said that transhipments to China accounted for more than half of Tehran’s $15bn (€10.9bn, £9.6bn) trade with the UAE.

Still think China’s going to sign on to a new round of tough sanctions against Iran? Think again. China has most likely already passed the European Union to become Iran’s No. 1 trading partner, the Financial Times reports:

Official figures say the EU remains Tehran’s largest commercial partner, with trade totalling $35bn in 2008, compared with $29bn with China.

But this number disguises the fact that much of Iran’s trade with the United Arab Emirates consists of goods channelled to or from China. Majid-Reza Hariri, deputy head of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce, said that transhipments to China accounted for more than half of Tehran’s $15bn (€10.9bn, £9.6bn) trade with the UAE.

When this is taken into account, China’s trade with Iran totals at least $36.5bn, which could be more than with the entire EU bloc. No definite conclusion is possible because it is unclear how much of Iran’s trade with Europe is channelled via the UAE.

Iran imports consumer goods and machinery from China and exports oil, gas, and petrochemicals.

Today, China depends on Iran for 11 per cent of its energy needs, according to the chamber.

Look at it this way: Would the United States support hard-hitting sanctions against Saudi Arabia, which in November supplied nearly 8 percent of U.S. oil imports?

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.