Iran’s Kish island trade operators reject island being sold to China rumor

Iran was suffering from US sanctions and economic challenges.

Iran's Kish Island 390 (photo credit: Caren Firouz / Reuters)
Iran's Kish Island 390
(photo credit: Caren Firouz / Reuters)
The managing director of the Kish Free Zone Organization, which manages part of an island that offers free trade opportunities in southern Iran, rejected claims that the islands status would be up for sale to China as part of an Iran-China deal. The comments made on Saturday to Iran’s Fars News seek to reduce concerns across Iran that a secret deal with China is in the works among officials within President Hassan Rouhani’s administration.
Iran, suffering US sanctions and economic challenges, has been reaching out to China. Iranian nationalist far-right politicians, including those around former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have fed rumors that Iran may give away “islands” as part of the deal. “This is not true and it is false,” said Gholam-Hossein Mozaffari, the managing director of the Kish Free Zone.” Iran’s media has blamed “monarchists” abroad for spreading the rumors. But clearly the Iranian media takes the rumors sufficiently seriously as to spend days and numerous articles debunking them. It’s far fetched that islands could be handed over, but China could gain some concessions or trade rights.
Iran already has deals with India in Chabahar port where India wants to invest. This means Iran is open to deals that help it improve infrastructure and that might mean some unique opportunities for China. China has helped develop other ports across Asia and Africa, so it has experience and it has a way of doing business that often involves some management or concessions. Why Iranian media is so focused on the China issue is unclear. Tasnim News has devoted numerous front page stories to the China deal and yet much of the deal remains uncertain and clouded in rumors and stories. It appears the real issue may be about who will take credit for it and what role the IRGC or others could play in its wake, such as regarding investment and a piece of the deal.