Iran in China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI): Bounded Progress and Bounded Promise

Manochehr Dorraj and Jean-Marc F. Blanchard
Publication Date: 
December 2nd, 2020

Iran is one of China’s most important partners in the Middle East and it hosts extensive Chinese investment and infrastructure projects. Iran is central player in China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI) and given the aforementioned situation many believed Iran would provide fertile soil for the development of the MSRI. An analysis of the scale and implementation of the MSRI in Iran, however, does not track with such expectations. While Tehran greatly values its dealings with and needs China, there are political and economic issues on the Iranian side limiting the progress of the MSRI. China and Chinese firms also are cautious about aggressively propelling the MSRI forward in Iran given sanctions on Iran, the global energy situation, and China’s current economic challenges. Ultimately, there is no automatic one-to-one correspondence between extensive good political and economic relations and MSRI implementation. Implementation is contingent on multiple variables discussed in the chapter. The chapter may be purchased individually here: