News ID: 77102 |
Publish Date: 10:28 - 02 November 2017

Iran’s Position in the New Silk Road

China has taken the control of the New Silk Road Initiative as a new way of development growth aiming at progression of road links between Asia, Africa and Europe and it decided to support the infrastructures by multibillion dollar investment. The project of the New Silk Road will be applied by two lines. The first line will connect China, Middle Asia and Europe under the name of “Silk Road Economic Belt”. The second line being “Maritime Silk road” connects china to Indian Ocean and then to the Mediterranean Sea. To perceive the importance of the New Silk Road, marine routes in the project and Iran’s role in this regard ,MANA correspondent conducted an interview with Dr. Bahram Amir Ahmadian, University Professor and consultant of Department of Transportation Ministry of Roads and Urban Development’s deputy. The transcription of this interview is reviewed in the following section:

Iran’s Position in the New Silk Road
What was the significant of the ancient Silk Road?
The Silk Road was initially a location for people to have transactions. However, this led to an increase in people’s communications and cultural exchanges in a way that Iran’s symbols could be illustrated through the road and in the authority of Muslims. This represents those traders who chose this route enjoyed morality that caused the transfer of notion and belief along with commercial goods. In this regard, religious, cultural, technological and art exchanges have been formed in the ancient Silk Road. In that time, the morality, behavior and conduct of Iranian was professed. Iranian Carpet and Porcelain were known under the brand of Iran and China, respectively. In fact, communicative roads created economic blossoming through nations’ ties with one another. Considering lack of residential areas along the roads, oases which were a fertile tract in a desert have been formed. These oases were far from each other and were considered a center for trade, notion, goods, and technology, industry and art transactions. For example, Chinese passed a land called “Sogdia” -which is a part of Tajikistan nowto arrive the Europe. The people of this land were very intelligent and were aware of Chinese language. During the Mongolian era and by the rise of Safavid in Iran as well as the disconnection of countries with each other, Silk Road lost its efficiency and trade transactions were recorded in a limited form.
What is the role of maritime passages in forming the Silk Road?
Considering the maritime detections, international maritime passages have changed to the main direction of human and land transport (road, rail) developed only in limited areas. However, no kinds of transports could be substituted by marine transport as maritime detections emerged. Oceangoing vessels gradually with high capacities find their way in marine transport to feed the economic life. Thousands of years ago, Iranian navigators traveled toward East Africa and Zanzibar from Bushehr Port in a way that positive moralities have been remained in this land. So, significance of maritime passages led to the forming of Maritime Silk Road.
What is the purpose followed by China behind the revival of the Silk Road?
In the early nineteenth century, the Caucasus was occupied by Russia, and Iran was forced to hand over its territory to the Russians. Britain attempted to establish peace between Russia and Iran in 1813 by concluding the Golestan Compassion in 1813 and Turkmenchay in 1828, and thus England remained in its colonies until 1947 which forced the British Empire to accept India’s independence. On the one hand and in the second half of the nineteenth century, Russia moved towards Samarkand, Bukhara and Central Asia, and on the other hand China was restricted in a closed environment, so the Silk Road no longer had any meaning. But now, the free environment caused mass production, market days in abundance, population growth and creating networks of roads. Therefore, in this situation where the Soviet communism is destroyed and China is no longer the Chinese Communist Party of Mao, the country needs to market for the sale of goods and, at the same time, needs communication networks because its limited communication networks suffocate population and production. So, due to the fact that the United States takes over the Spratly Islands in West Pacific Ocean and East of China, and in contrast China tries to build artificial islands, the seas have become dominant territories. In line with this, international shipping which plays a vital role in people’s life encounters difficulty. Russia has also been sanctioned by the United States because of the occupation of the Crimean peninsula and restrictions on the movement of ships. The authority of this peninsula is dependent on Ukraine by means of maritime law but practically it is occupied by Russia. Then for china not to encounter problems in its production and international trade, it is to move from the South to the destination and not to pass the Malacca Strait. Because every ship that aims at traveling the South Pacific Ocean toward the North have to pass Malacca Strait and West of Pacific Ocean due to oceanic currents to employ shipping services in the case of danger. Malacca Strait caused Singapore to be a city state owing to receiving shipping services in a way that income resulted from exported shipping services of the country is more than that of the gained income of Iran’s oil GDP. So, china has to create a route called “string of pearls” no to encounter difficulty. This means that a connecting line from the South of India to South Asia and then to a port such as Gwadar port in Pakistan is created.
What’s the role of seas in remaking process of the Silk Road by China?
China’s decision to revive the Silk Road is a departure from the maritime bottleneck monopoly. This means that access to markets will be achieved by reaching widespread markets if there is a problem in the maritime sector. For example, in 2000, an agreement was signed between Iran, India and Russia, called the North-South Corridor. At that time Putin had just arrived in the Russian presidency, and the United States intended to curb it During the Cold War, the Soviet Union prevented the growth of the communist, its limitations, and eventually its collapse. So, Russia decided to define an intra-boundary corridor that crossed Asia. Now Russia is again looking for inland territorial corridors. China compares itself with Russia on a larger scale. China is connected to the United States by ocean and from the East and to the Asia from the West. So it tries to use the Pacific less. China has made its own navy very strong and moves toward militarism. It shows that the territory of waters and maritime commerce is valuable enough to be used for that war scenario. China, on the other hand, has seized Pakistan’s port of Gwadar for 40 years to take advantage of the economic and strategic corridor of China and Pakistan. In fact, China has taken the control of the Gwadar Port in the Oman Sea (Arab) for economic purposes, to connect the city of Kashgar to the Xinjiang area of China and continue to travel th e re through the railways. China is thinking of the revival of the Silk Road in such a condition. Because the country has a n annual GDP of $12 trillio n , so it will face difficult i es if there is a limit. On the other hand, China’s population is recorded about one billion and 300 million. In other words, if GDP is to being divided among each Chinese, each would get approximately $700. America is also the world’s first economy, with $8 trillion in GDP and divides it between 350 million people. With these interpretations, America’s supremacy will always be maintained. That’s why China has to define the Silk Road to maintain its economy. If China uses the Iran Road Network on its Silk Road, it will pay a transit fee for transit goods, but this may be so small that it will not be enough to rebuild our roads. Of course, we can demand more money from them by expressing the importance and necessity of Iran’s roads and ask them to process a part of their goods in our country due to using Iran’s route or to develop rail and road infrastructure and invest. So crossing the Silk Road to Iran is an opportunity.
What’s Iran’s role in Maritime Silk Road?
Iran can expand its shipping through a long coastline in the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea. We can interact with the world by attending seas and transportation. Over the course of a specified period, 1.5 million people must settle in the Makran coast of Chabahar. We can accommodate people by developing ports in these areas. Future world will be a troubled world. America will create problems for countries. In the meantime, how to exploit the Strait of Hormuz can be effective in the interest or disadvantage of Iran. In addition, establishing oil terminals and bunkering hubs as well as scattering population in these areas could be effective. In the future, Iran has to implement policies for population dispersal. One of the ways is the development of the southern coast of the country. The Shanghai Alliance and the Eurasian Economic Union are planning to push us into land transport, while our concentration should be on the ocean. That’s why we have to accelerate the development of Chabahar. In 2004, an Asian pass way was to be established between Iran and Afghanistan, and three republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. But, unfortunately, this issue was not tracked. Iran has many capacities in its ports, which unfortunately does not employ them all. Iran can communicate with Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to devote some of its piers to them and make the economies of these countries to be dependent on the country’s port.
Is the new Silk Road an opportunity or a threat for Iran? What are the benefits of choosing Iran for China?
The ancient Silk Road route crossed China, Central Asia, Turkmenistan and Iran, and then was divided into two branches, one from the northern east of Turkey to Europe, and another from Iran to Baghdad, Mesopotamia and Syria (Shamet) and the Mediterranean coast. Iran is currently facing difficulties due to restrictions imposed by Turkey on its relations with Europe. Another way of connecting Iran to Europe is the Caucasus, Georgia, the Black Sea and the linkage to Eastern Europe. But in fact, the corridor of Iran, Iraq and Syria, which ultimately connects to the Mediterranean coast, is preferable Russia, Turkey and Iran do not have money to rebuild Syria, the Arabs are enemies of Syria, and America and Europe do not intend to help, so the only remaining country is China. Therefore, if China intends to cooperate with Iran, it will benefit a lot by having access to the Middle East and energy sources, while it can also invest in these areas and employ its manpower for these investments. Moreover, through this corridor, Iran can trade with the East of the Mediterranean. West China’s trade with Iran can be formed through the port of Gwadar and Chabahar. Currently, the Chabahar port is developing through the Indians and the Iranian people can invest in the port instead of other parts of the port. The government can provide the platform of investment in Chabahar by selling bonds. The Egyptian people did the same and, despite the financial difficulties, managed to create a wide channel alongside the old Suez Canal last year. To select the transit route, the shortest one is not necessarily the best one; it is a convenient route for the traders to operate easily. If the rules and regulations for the transfer of goods are to be difficult and complex, no one will choose that route. When the Azerbaijani’s oil was to cross Iran, we believed that it was the best, cheapest, shortest and safest route. But Europeans, by investing in the Caspian region, tried to bring oil to the European countries. At present, Europeans have transferred oil from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to their homeland by creating a 1,760-kilometer pipeline. Export of goods needs stability. If an interruption occurs in the delivery of the goods, the exporter will choose another route to achieve his goal. In order to persuade China to use the Iranian route, a necessary structure such as insurance, bank, customs, fuel, inspection, roads, road services, etc. should be created. Iran has good conditions in terms of having suitable roads. But management needs to be met. It is very important to create an appropriate economic atmosphere. Considering the document of 20 years Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran, this country will recorded the most interactions with the region countries in 1404. To interact with countries, the communication and legal infrastructures must be provided. Facilitating economic relations, creating proper customs on the borders, and coordinating institutions as well as reducing the institutions involved in exporting and importing are very influential.
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