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State Dept.’s Krach and Hook call out China and Iran ‘Totalitarian Twins’ in WSJ op-ed

Xi Jinping, the Chinese Paramount Leader and his entourage met with Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, January 23, 2016. (Official website of Ali Khamenei, Supreme leader of Iran, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
July 21, 2020

The U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith J. Krach and the U.S. Special Representative to Iran Brian H. Hook declared Iran and China “Totalitarian Twins” in an opinion article published in the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

In their article, titled “Iran and China, the Totalitarian Twins,” Krach and Hook expressed skepticism at a recent strategic partnership announced by the two countries, but said the partnership highlights common traits among the two countries. The two senior U.S. State Department officials wrote, “Both governments are revolutionary relics known for lawless behavior, duplicity, bullying, domestic oppression and thought control, coercive economic practices and grave human-rights abuses.”

Krach and Hook initially took aim at a 25-year strategic partnership recently announced between China and Iran, which includes $400 billion in Chinese infrastructure investment in Iran.

“To put it in perspective, China has invested less than $27 billion in Iran in the past 15 years—and that was before Covid-19 hit China’s economy. At best, this deal is a framework for cooperation,” the pair wrote. “The purported deal also faces popular outrage among the Iranian people, who have zero interest in their country becoming a Chinese client state.”

Krach and Hook went on to note other parts of the partnership between Iran and China that could cause their alliance more harm than good. The authors noted any Chinese military support for Iran would likely be in breach of a United Nations arms embargo against Iran, which could subject China to new sanctions. The authors also warned Iran’s economy is heavily controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a designated foreign terrorist organization. “These two factors make any return on investment far from certain.”

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“For Iran, this partnership is born of desperation. Because the regime has been severely weakened, in part by U.S. sanctions, the mullahs are willing to do a deal with a predatory power so long as it gains access to capital. The regime is willing to romance the Chinese Communist Party even while it imprisons Uighur Muslims in indoctrination camps,” the authors wrote. “In doing so, the mullahs are breaking with their spiritual father and founder, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who in 1981 summed up the global aspirations of his newly founded Islamic Republic: ‘We wish to cause the corrupt roots of . . . communism to wither throughout the world.’ He called on his followers to ‘destroy’ communism. Has Khomeini’s revolution died at the age of 41?

“As for China, its eagerness to boost the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and anti-Semitism is the latest in a series of moves that show Beijing as an irresponsible actor.”

Transitioning from their skepticism on the partnership between the two countries, Krach and Hook went on to praise companies and countries that have sought to cut business ties with Iran and China. In particular, the authors noted the U.K.’s decision to ban the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from participating in establishing the company’s 5G networks.

“We are making the case that smart economic policy is sound national-security strategy, and our friends and partners around the world are heeding this call in an unprecedented way,” the authors concluded their article. “The world is moving on to more-trusted partners that share our values, and this movement will continue to gain speed. This is very good for all nations that value freedom and security.”