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China and Iran

Ancient Partners in a Post-Imperial World

Iran's nuclear aspirations increasingly dominate its relations with the United States and Europe. China remains one of Iran's strongest allies on the Security Council, and also its most likely supplier of technology and assistance, built on decades of close economic and military relations. Iran is enjoying strong new influence in the Middle East and Asia following record oil profits and Shi'i victories in Iraqi parliamentary elections. Like Iran, China fought for decades to increase its self-reliance and geopolitical influence after painful experiences under European colonialism, which spurred nationalist revolutions.

With China and Iran: Ancient Partners in a Post-Imperial World, John Garver breaks new ground on the relationship between the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Grounding his survey in the twin concepts of civilization and power, Garver explores the relationship between these two ancient and proud peoples, each of which consider the other a peer and a partner in their mutual determination to build a post-Western-dominated Asia. Successive governments of both China and Iran have recognized substantial national capabilities in each other, capabilities that allow the countries to achieve their own national interests through cooperation. These interests have varied - from countering Soviet expansionism to resisting U.S. unilateralism - but the cooperative relationship between the two nations has remained constant.

In his compelling analysis, Garver explores the evolution of Sino-Iranian relations through several phases, including Iran under the shah and before the 1979 revolution; from the 1979 revolution to 1989, a year marked both by the end of the Iran-Iraq war and the beginning of conflict in Sino-U.S. relations; and from 1989 to 2004. China and Iran includes discussion of the current debates at the International Atomic Energy Agency over Iran's nuclear programs and China's role in assisting these programs and in supporting Iran in international debates. Garver examines China's involvement in Iran's efforts to modernize its military, including China's offer of weapons, capital goods, and engineering services in exchange for Iranian oil, suggesting links between this energy exchange and China's support for Iran in political arenas.

In today's political climate, where China is recognized as a rising and increasingly influential global power and Iran as one of the most powerful nations in the Middle East, this book presents a crucial analysis of a topic of utmost importance to scholars and the general public today.

About the Author

John W. Garver is professor of international affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Among his previous books are Protracted Contest: Sino-Soviet Rivalry in the Twentieth Century and Face Off: China, the United States, and Taiwan's Democratization.


"With this study, the author has written on a rarely discussed topic: Chinese-Iranian relations. He has done us a great service in doing so, not only by taking on an unusual topic, but also in doing it with gratifying length. . . . Garver has succeeded in capturing both the current context of the Sino-Iranian relationship and the much deeper historical context of their goals and attitudes. . . . The book deserves a wide audience."—The Historian

"This thoughtful exploration of the important but little-understood relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People's Republic of China could not be timelier. . . . [Garver] provides precisely what policy makers need: historical perspective on Chinese-Iranian contact going back to imperial times, but concentrating on the late 20th century."—Choice

"Garver's analysis of the past and future of the relationship is thoroughly researched, analytically astute, and lucidly presented.. Garver sees the relationship he is studying from the inside— what it means to be participants in their own mental worlds, from the outside— how it works geostrategically, and from all around, in historical, cultural, diplomatic, strategic, and economic dimensions."—Political Science Quarterly

"A great contribution to our knowledge of Chinese foreign policy and its achievements with an important partner at a time of US preeminence. This work will appeal to the policymaker and professor alike, and would be suitable for both upper undergraduate and especially graduate courses. Whether readers are concerned with China's rise, the emergence of a more powerful Iran or interests and constraints for the United States in engaging these regional powers, China and Iran makes for an exacting, insightful and valuable read."—The China Journal

"A comprehensive examination of the drivers, content, and possible implications of the relationship between China and Iran."—Middle East Journal

"Interesting and timely."—IIAS Newsletter

"Garver's work presents valuable insights into this relationship built on centuries of economic relations."—Open Spaces

"An incisive and remarkably lucid historical overview. Garver's China and Iran is likely to recast our thinking on the dynamics and study of bilateral relations."—Dawn

"Could not be timelier..At a time when Washington is trying to cajole China into helping to halt Iranian efforts to build nuclear weapons and long—range missiles, diplomats and scholars ought to put this solid, sober, well—researched, reasonably priced book near the top of their reading lists."—Choice Magazine


"An excellent study of complex and understudied issues. It is absolutely seminal in the sense that there is no book at all on this topic, and precious few articles. China and Iran is a major contribution to the field."—Kamran Aghaie, University of Texas at Austin

"Garver has again proven himself to be the nation's leading scholar of China's foreign relations. This pathbreaking scholarship provides a much—needed corrective to media caricatures and fills a void of reliable information."—David Shambaugh, George Washington University

"Garver's painstaking research shows how China and Iran try consistently to resist perceived American hegemony and invoke their ancient relations to legitimize the convergence of their national interests. Garver empathetically probes these relations from the perspectives of their leaders, rather than his own American lenses."—R. K. Ramazani, University of Virginia

"Garver's incisive and lucid work draws attention to the range and depth of China—Iran cultural interactions and how these shape their perceptions and projection of power…. These rigorous, refreshing, innovative insights on the intricacies of regional politics are likely to recast our thinking on power relationships in Asia and the Middle East."—Saaed Shafqat, Columbia University

"A tour de force of the highest importance to U.S. policymakers and scholars alike."—Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr.

"The first of its kind, Garver's timely book combines exciting insights on politics, ideology, Islam, and energy, as well as military and nuclear policy. This will be the standard work for some time to come."—Yitzhak Shichor, University of Haifa

University of Washington Press

9780295986302 : china-and-iran-garver
$99.00 USD
9780295986319 : china-and-iran-garver
Paperback / softback
$30.00 USD

Other Titles by John W. Garver

Protracted Contest

John W. Garver
Jul 2015 - University of Washington Press
$99.00 USD - Hardback

The Protracted Contest

John W. Garver
Feb 2002 - University of Washington Press
$35.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Face Off

John W. Garver
Jul 1997 - University of Washington Press
$23.00 USD - Paperback / softback

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