Iran Begins New Container Service To China

File image courtesy Israel Defense Force

By MarEx 2016-02-01 20:38:12

The Chinese province of Guangxi has received its first Iranian container ship in the post-sanctions era, Chinese state media reported Monday. The arrival of the container vessel Peranin is the first in a new maritime route linking Iran and the Middle East to the Gulf of Tonkin and Guangxi. Chinese media described the port call as another step towards China's Twenty-First Century Maritime Silk Road, the seaborne component of the nation's westward reach in trade, diplomacy and military presence.

News of the arrival parallels the first departure of a freight train from Zhejiang province to Iran, a two week-long, 10,000 kilometer rail service strengthening the nations' trade infrastructure. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Chinese President Xi Jinping recently met in Tehran and signed over a dozen cooperation agreements for strengthened bilateral ties, including an arrangement towards the development of China's “One Belt, One Road” initiative to build a New Silk Road trade route. Chinese media have reported an Iranian commitment of $6 billion to the project. The cooperation agreements also include oil and gas investments, and a goal to reach $600 billion in bilateral trade in the next ten years.

“The end of the sanctions will serve first and foremost to help Chinese energy firms – that is why President Xi Jinping is paying a sudden official visit to Tehran,” said Jean-Christophe Iseux, an adviser to the Chinese government. 

China remained a strong trading partner of Iran throughout the nuclear sanctions era, buying the nation’s oil through careful financial arrangements with Iranian banks and investing heavily in infrastructure projects like Tehran's new subway system. China stands to benefit now, with access to oil and gas fields but also to strategic facilities like the port of Bandar Abbas, which hosted Chinese warships for the first time in October.