China, India forge peace on one border as other frictions emerge, this time in Iran

China, India forge peace on one border as other frictions emerge, this time in Iran

  • Clash of interests in the nearby nation may be new source of tension, as Beijing and Tehran negotiate an economic and security pact
  • The deal could jeopardise New Delhi’s strategic plan to invest in the Iranian port of Chabahar, analysts say

Even as India and China hold talks to defuse a deadly Himalayan border clash between their troops last month, New Delhi’s next challenge from Beijing is already emerging, over 1,000km (620 miles) away from Indian territory – in Iran.

Relations between the world’s two most populous nations turned volatile after 20 Indian soldiers died in a skirmish with Chinese soldiers on June 15 at the Himalayan border region of Ladakh. Earlier this month, Indian national security adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed to pull back troops from the disputed border.

While the tensions may have eased for now, a clash of strategic interests in nearby Iran could be a new source of friction.Beijing plans to pour US$400 billion into infrastructure investment in Iran as part of a 25-year economic and security partnership that will give China a regular, lower-priced supply of oil, The New York Times reported on July 11, citing an 18-page leaked document on the plan. China has declined to confirm or deny the report.

Such a move would elbow right into a long-planned ambition of India to invest in Iran’s Chabahar port on the Indian Ocean. The project, which includes building a rail link from the port to Iran’s border with resource-rich Afghanistan, would open up lower-cost seaborne trading channels for India into Central Asia, while hopscotching landlocked routes blocked by rivals Pakistan and China.