Iran-China Current Affairs

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First Silk Road train arrives in Tehran from China

The first long distance cargo train connecting Iran and China has arrived in the Iranian capital city Tehran after starting its journey from China.

The train had started its journey from China’s eastern Zhejiang province and it took 14 days to reach final destination. It had covered around 9,500-kilometre distance and passed through two Central Asian countries Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

Henceforth such trains will run between both countries once in every month and the frequency will be increased if necessary. These trains will be run by private companies using existing routes.

Significance

  • It marks the revival the ancient Silk Road and gives impetus to China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative part of revived Silk Road diplomacy.
  • This train’s journey was 30 days shorter compared to time taken by sea voyage from Shanghai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
  • It also will boost to bilateral trade between both countries after they had agreed to build economic ties worth up to 600 billion dollars within the next 10 years.
  • Currently, China is Iran’s biggest trading partner and accounts for its one third of foreign trade. China is also top customer for oil exports from Iran.

Comment

Iran is strategically located in the Middle East (West Asia) and shares land borders with 8 nations and sea channels on its northern and south-western coasts. China seeks to leverage Iran’s strategic location by making it part of its New Silk Road initiative in order to get access to extensive delivery routes connecting to the Eurasia and Middle East.

Background

The Silk Road was an ancient network of commercial land and sea routes that was named for the lucrative Chinese silk trade. This trade route was central to business across the Asian continent connecting China with the Mediterranean Sea. The revived Silk Road is envisioned as a rail and sea route as part of China’s ambitious OBOR economic development strategy.

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