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Geopolitics

Iran's Secret 25-Year Trade Pact With China May Really Be A Military Deal

Iranians only have online speculation to guess how much the country's clerical regime has conceded to China as part of the New Silk Road initiative. There are now reports of 5,000 Chinese security agents being deployed in Iran to "protect" Chinese personnel working in the oil sector.

photo of a man with a mask crossing a blue foot bridge

Crossing that bridge in Tehran

Sobhan Farajvan/Pacific Press via ZUMA

A member of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce recently cited unconfirmed reports of some 5,000 Chinese security agents deployed in Iran, under the pretext of protecting Chinese personnel working in the oil and gas sectors.

The presence of Chinese forces inside Iran would be within the framework of the 25-year cooperation pact between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People's Republic of China. Reza Padidar, head of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture's energy committee, says the reports are fueling concerns about the mechanics of implementation of the Iran-China pact.

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Coronavirus

In Shanghai, A Brewing Expat Exodus As COVID Crackdown Shows "Real" China

Not only strict rules of freedom of movement as part of Zero-COVID policy but also an increase in censorship has raised many questions for the expat population in the megacity of 26 million that had long enjoyed a kind of special status in China as a place of freedom and openness. A recent survey of foreigners in the Chinese megacity found that 48% of respondents said they would leave Shanghai within the next year.

People walk in Tianzifang, located in Huangpu District, a well-known tourist attraction in Shanghai.

Lili Bai

SHANGHAI — On the seventh day of the lockdown, Félix, a French expat who has worked in Shanghai for four years, texted his boss: I want to "run,' mais je sais pas quand (but I don’t know when). A minute later, he received a reply: moi aussi (me too).

Félix had recently learned the new Mandarin word 润 (run) from social network postings of his local friends. Because its pinyin “rùn” is the same as the English word “run,” Chinese youth had begun to use it to express their wish to escape reality, either to “be freed from mundane life”, or to “run toward your future.”

For foreigners like Félix, by associating the expression “run” with the feeling of the current lockdown in Shanghai, “everything makes sense.” Félix recalled how at the end of March, the government denied rumors of an impending lockdown: “My Chinese colleagues all said, Shanghai is China’s top city, there would be no lockdown no matter what.”

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