In times when China is expanding its influence in countries worldwide, the US is also pulling up its socks to counter Chinese ambitions in the world.
As China and Iran, two of the top US rivals, move a step closer to each other, signing a 25-year agreement of mutual cooperation in trade and military, Biden has also signaled to start a counter Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) plan between the democratic countries.
Although no official statements have been made of the new sweeping accord between the two US-sanctioned countries, the repercussions seem to be severe for the US and its allied countries.
What is the latest agreement between China and Iran, and what does Biden mean by his announcement of initiating a counter BRI plan? Let’s see.
China and Iran’s 25-Year Agreement: Two US-Sanctioned Countries Coming Closer
As the United States under Biden is still refraining from lifting the Trump-imposed sanctions on the Iranian regime imposed after the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), China and Iran are coming closer to each other.
China is also extending its vaccine diplomacy ambitions in Iran, as it donated almost 250,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines to Iran.
The signed deal comprises almost $400 billion, for which China will invest hugely in Iran in the infrastructure domain. In return, China will get a constant supply of Iranian oil to support its expanding industries.
This deal is also prominent in the wake of Iran’s isolation in the world, as it would increase Iran’s options to expand its international relations.
While Biden has approached Iran to get back to the JCPOA deal, China has supported Iran’s stance and forced the US to take the first step in easing down the tensions.
Making relations better with Iran will also strengthen China’s so-called “String of Pearls” theory, according to which China is finding ports around the Indian Ocean to make naval bases.
Iran has its famous Chabahar port that can profit China to further its “String of Pearls.” India is also known to make significant economic contributions to the development of that Chabahar port in its bid to erect a parallel port in competition with Pakistan’s Gwadar port.
China is already investing in Pakistan’s Gwadar port, and occupying Iran’s port will turn the game completely in favor of China.
The Chabahar port is also the nearest port from the Strait of Hormuz, the choke point of the global trade that passes almost 21 million barrels of oil daily.
Iran has often reiterated its capability to block the Strait of Hormuz in case of an all-out war with the US. With China on the port, it can help Iran implement this blockage amid the rising tensions with the US, bringing the global trade flow to a standstill.
The United States has much to lose in all of these developing events, for which it would be left with no option other than military offensive.
US Version of BRI: A New Strategy to Counter China
In his phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Joe Biden has offered a counter-BRI plan to expand the anti-Chinese ambitions in the world.
While it is just a theoretical plan as of now, it will predominantly change the global power dynamics if it happens. Biden said,
“I suggested we should have, essentially, a similar initiative, pulling from the democratic states, helping those communities around the world that, in fact, need help.”
He is looking to start a range of infrastructure projects in poor countries that will symbolically be used to help people. However, the primary motive of it would remain to dilute the Chinese BRI.
Biden said this in the backdrop of his own remarks of refraining China from passing the US as the biggest economy of the world.
For the United States to pursue this proposed plan, it would be difficult for the Biden administration to convince other countries to bandwagon the US for this mission.
Not only this, but the US will also need to find the beneficiaries, as China is already investing big money in most of the under-developed countries.
Amid the economic recession in the pandemic, the US will have to make unpopular decisions if it wants to start investing in countries, which could sky-rocket the domestic tensions.
Not only this, but the Chinese plan is already developed, and catching up to them will not be an easy thing for the US and its allies.
However, it is a good time for the US to cash on its QUAD allies, especially Japan, as it has already lifted its masses up from poverty.
Anyhow, taking action is the only way out for the US, as inaction will only strengthen China further.