China has come to the aid of Iran’s ruling ayatollahs as they try to repress the country's population by providing intelligence, spying and tracing technology, and even weapons, the Foreign Desk reports.
Following the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16, 2022, while in police custody, a series of protests spread across the country. Amini was arrested by the Guidance Patrol for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic's strict mandatory hijab law.
The brutality with which these protests were met has only served to galvanize the movement, spreading to other cities across the world and presenting Iran's government with an increasingly difficult set of challenges..
It's estimated that hundreds of people have been killed by the regime during the protests, and thousands more arrested. On Thursday morning, Iran announced it had carried out its first execution in relation to the protests.
China has also been met with criticism over its handling of its own protests, allowing the two countries' anti-western stance to serve as a bonding mechanism.
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"Birds of a feather flock together," said Jim Philips, a Senior Research Fellow at the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy. "Both China and Iran are led by totalitarian ideological parties that see themselves as the vanguard of global anti-western revolutions. Despite ideological differences both are happy to cooperate against the U.S., which each has identified as an archenemy."
Philips sees this partnership only strengthening, stating that "Iran's theocratic dictatorship, locked into a confrontation with the United States, is drifting into China’s orbit."
"These evolving ties have strengthened Iran's ability to resist sanctions, eased its isolation and aided its efforts to achieve regional hegemony," he added.
Iran's government has publicized plans to take advantage of specific technologies, "including AI-powered face recognition, to maintain regime stability and neutralize dissent," according to the Foundation of Defense of Democracies.
At the center of this partnership between the two regimes is Tiandy, the Chinese technology firm that has been aiding China's repressive tactics and that is now helping the Iranian regime to monitor landline, mobile and internet communications.
Other technologies being utilized by the regime include several key social control products, ranging from surveillance video recorders to thermal imaging cameras.
Even as Iran begins to show signs of loosening its grip on the protesters, the continued use of Chinese technology to quell dissent will always be met with criticism from the west.