China guarantees to buy Iran crude for 25 years: Ex-envoy

A former Iranian ambassador to China says the East Asian country would guarantee to buy Iran’s oil for 25 years as part of a long-term partnership deal that is being negotiated between the two.

Mehdi Safari said in remarks published on Sunday that China is looking for a reliable supplier of energy as its imports of oil have more than doubled in six years to reach 11 million barrels per day (bpd).

Safari said China is already importing nearly half of its oil needs, around 5.5 million bpd, from the Persian Gulf region where Iran has the most dominant presence due to the length of its coasts on the sea.

“China says that it will guarantee, as part of a mutual guarantee, to buy Iran’s oil for the next 25 years,” Safari told the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

He said a main reason for China to seek a long-term energy partnership with Iran is the pressure imposed by the United States on the Chinese in the South East Asia region, prompting Beijing to increasingly look westward to revive the so-called new Silk Road through territories like Iran.

Safari said the comprehensive partnership deal with China could entail many benefits for Iran as well, including a surge in arrivals of Chinese tourists into the country.

“The Chinese send 250 million tourists (to other countries) each year, if only one million of them arrive in Iran, that would deeply change our economy,” said the former envoy.

Neither Iran nor China have given any concrete details about a potential long-term agreement that has yet to be finalized.

However, leaks have suggested that China would invest around $400 billion in Iran’s energy and infrastructure sectors over 25 years in return for taking delivery of a stable supply of energy from the Middle Eastern country.

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