Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi was warmly welcomed by his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing, but the same issues that have hampered their relationship for years – mainly economic ties – pose a challenge to the deals signed by the two.
Raisi wrapped up a three-day trip to China on Wednesday, which marked the first state visit by an Iranian president to the Asian economic giant in two decades. The symbolism of the visit began even before Raisi departed Tehran.
In a speech before leaving, he stood in front of a large map of Iran, with “Persian Gulf” marked prominently in what appeared to be a message to Xi, who had signed a joint statement with leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in December that irked Tehran.
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The statement called into question Iran’s ownership of three islands in the Strait of Hormuz, prompting a fierce backlash in Iranian media, and the Iranian foreign ministry expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” to Beijing’s ambassador.