By Aaron Kliegman Over the weekend, the world experienced a geopolitical earthquake, the tremors of which may be felt for years to come. The quake first hit Tehran, where on Saturday the foreign ministers of China and Iran signed a 25-year “comprehensive strategic partnership” between their countries. While the exact terms of the deal haven’t been publicized, we know the basic arrangement. China will invest significant sums of money in Iran over the next quarter-century in exchange for a steady supply of cheap Iranian oil. Contrary to what the media’s reported, the deal includes no exact figures. We should therefore view reports saying China will invest some $400 billion in Iran with great skepticism. Given that Iran has never absorbed more than $5 billion of foreign direct investment in a single year, and given that China invested a total of $182 billion in the United States from 2005 to 2019 (more than any other country during those 15 years), the figures being reported today seem unrealistic, even ludicrous. If the numbers are accurate, Iran is surrendering its autonomy, with the Iranian regime relegating a great nation to nothing more than a Chinese gas station. It’s more likely, however, that the numbers are pure propaganda, meant to awe the world with the sheer scale of this new deal. Regardless, the deal is a win-win for two anti-American regimes: Iran evades America’s punishing sanctions, which have strangled the Iranian economy, while China fuels its insatiable drive for economic and military growth. The agreement also seems to include a commitment to closer military cooperation, including joint training and the transfer of Chinese technology to Iran. Even more concerning is a clause, detailed in a former draft of the deal, calling for both countries to share intelligence — a collaboration that could seriously threaten American and allied operations. The larger strategic threat of this partnership, however, is growing Chinese influence in the Middle East — especially as Washington continues to stumble about in the region, looking for the exit sign and leaving a vacuum for others to fill. For years, China has been investing billions of dollars in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, such as Egypt. China is also the largest trading partner, or one of the largest, for several of these same countries, including both Iran and Saudi Arabia. And China has invested heavily in a port near the Persian Gulf in Gwadar, Pakistan and a military base by the entrance of the Red Sea in Djibouti, among other facilities. (Beijing has plans to build additional bases in the region.) This new deal with Iran will accelerate Beijing’s regional influence by increasing its economic developments and formalizing its political support to Tehran. To our detriment, most Americans will think about this problem purely in terms of the Middle East. But Chinese leaders have a bigger strategic vision in mind. Many of China’s investments in the Middle East are part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an ambitious Chinese enterprise to integrate Asia, Europe, and Africa by building and financing roads, railways, and pipelines by land and ports by sea. The goal is to connect dozens of countries across Afro-Eurasia, with all roads ultimately leading to Beijing. Make no mistake: The BRI may look like an economic endeavor on the surface, but it’s really a project of imperial influence and, ultimately, dominance. By connecting Afro-Eurasia, China would be able to threaten the US in unprecedented ways both economically and militarily. The Middle East is crucial to linking Europe with east Asia — just look at a map. And due to its size, location, and potential power, Iran is the key to influencing the Middle East. Hence China’s interest in Iran. And Iran obviously needs China to resist the US. That both countries despise the US and Western values makes the partnership that much sweeter. Americans need to recognize what’s at stake here. For decades, the main objective of American foreign policy has been to prevent one power, or a network of powers, from dominating any region on the Eurasian supercontinent — Asia, the Middle East, or continental Europe. Today, many analysts correctly worry about Iran and China trying to dominate their respective regions through brute imperialism. But China wants more than just east Asia and sees Iran as an imperial partner in crime to help achieve the Chinese Communist Party’s grand ambitions. Elites in Washington like to separate regions and look at each in isolation. But the Chinese see the world as an interconnected system of regions and countries that blur into each other. They know a railway in Iran or a port in Djibouti will help them later to achieve their goals in Europe and Africa. In other words, what China’s doing in the Middle East won’t stay in the Middle East. All that being said, we shouldn’t exaggerate the importance of the newly signed strategic partnership between China and Iran. It’s not the dawn of a new global order or the catalyst of the collapse of American power, as some analysts seem to think it is. Indeed, the agreement is more a general framework for Chinese-Iranian relations than a detailed roadmap. However, the deal does lay the groundwork for deep, intimate ties between two hardened adversaries who wish America harm and seek imperial dominance. The deal also advances China’s objective to supplant the US as the world’s leading power. But the agreement really formalizes what already exits rather than creates a new reality. Nonetheless, a geopolitical earthquake rocked the world this past weekend. Whether we’ll continue to feel the tremors in the coming years largely depends on the wisdom and effectiveness of Ame Newt hosts monthly virtual events in which he discusses news of the day and why it matters to you and your community. These Newt Live events are your opportunity to communicate directly with Newt. We hope you will join us next time and let Newt answer your questions and provide his insight on the issues that concern you most. JOIN TODAY to be a part of this special event and receive a BONUS GIFT. Click here to join Newt’s Inner Circle.