China and Iran, Afghanistan’s biggest and most powerful neighbors, have asked their mutual neighbor to end restrictions on women’s rights to education and work.
China, Iran Call on Afghanistan to End Restrictions on Womenhttps://t.co/Oy9NEMmaPe
— Voice of America (@VOANews) February 17, 2023
The two countries issued the call through a joint statement on February 16th at the end of the visit by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. During his visit, the two allies reaffirmed their close political and economic ties and their rejection of the West’s interpretation of human rights and democracy.
“The two sides ... called on the Afghan rulers to form an inclusive government in which all ethnic groups and political groups actually participate, and cancel all discriminatory measures against women, ethnic minorities and other religions,” the joint statement said, adding that the US and its allies “should be responsible for the current situation in Afghanistan."
Much of China and Iran’s joint statement strongly emphasized the political and economic ties between the two countries, the desire for peace and justice, and denuclearization, despite Iran’s secret attempts to improve its nuclear capabilities.
The US previously backed Afghanistan’s elected government against the Taliban but withdrew in 2021 amid dwindling public support and rising costs. Since the Taliban seized power that same year, the new regime suppressed women’s rights, removing their access to work, education, and even the right to enter public spaces such as gyms and baths.
China and Iran’s joint statement is notable coming from Iran’s fundamentalist theocratic regime, which had been challenged by months of protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, as well as from China’s communist regime, which had been criticized for its treatment of its Muslim Uyghur minority along with its harsh implementation of the zero-COVID policy.
Seriously, Iran? https://t.co/CRV1vllpoK
— Palki Sharma (@palkisu) February 17, 2023
The Islamic Republic has arrested and tortured several dissidents since it started cracking down on protests. At least four men have been sentenced to death for participating in the demonstrations. China was forced to abandon its zero-COVID policy after seeing the biggest protest since the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi expressed support for China’s suppression of Hong Kong’s democratic movement and its claims over Taiwan, a self-ruling democratic island over the coast of China.
“China supports Iran in safeguarding national sovereignty” and “resisting unilateralism and bullying,” Xi Jinping said in a statement broadcasted by Chinese state media.
Along with Russia, China and Iran have portrayed themselves as counterweights to the West and, in recent times, have given tacit support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In Iran’s case, the regime supplied weapons to Russia.
The two countries signed 20 cooperation agreements, adding up to a 25-year strategy signed in 2021 to cooperate in developing oil, industry, and other sectors of the economy. Even though Iran has struggled under trade and financial sanctions imposed by the US and its allies, China remains one of the biggest buyers of its oil and one of its major foreign investors.
But despite all fanfare, not much has happened. Little progress was made as sanctions and fear of poor return on investment held Chinese investors back. In Raisi's first term, China has only invested $162m, less than Afghanistan and Turkey. https://t.co/p0bVB0M6r9
— Bill Figueroa (@IranChinaGuy) February 13, 2023