China, Railroads, and Iran (9/8/2010)

One thing I find extremely interesting is how China is trying to expand its ties to Iran. China is planning to expand its rail infrastructure to include a railway line to Iran. Aside from the economic effects of such a project connecting the Middle East with China, there are political implications as well. Nicklas Swanstrom explained that “while technically the U.S., Europe or Russia could block China’s sea routes, it would also have a land route. And by tying your neighbor’s infrastructure to you, it brings them closer. It decreases Russia’s influence in the region, and definitely decreases the influence of the U.S. and Europe.”1 Such a land route would make enforcing sanctions on Iran impossible for the United States without Chinese approval, and puts them in an even better position than they have now to profit from circumventing the sanctions already in place. Stratfor pointed out that “every time a multinational energy company pulls out of Iran, Beijing’s state-owned players seem to take over, as happened to the Japanese firm Inpex in 2006 when it complied with a previous round of sanctions.” 2


1. Malcolm Moore, “China to build $2bn railway for Iran,”, September 7, 2010, accessed September 7,2010,

2. Strategic Forecasting, “The U.S. Push for Asian Support of Iran Sanctions,”, August 5, 2010, Retrieved from email subscription.

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