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The endorsement of Tehran's nuclear energy program by Moscow and Beijing reveals the primary impetus behind the China-Iran-Russia axis - to counter US unilateralism and global hegemonic intentions. For Beijing and Moscow, this means minimizing US influence in Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. For the regime in Tehran, keeping the US at bay is a matter of survival.
The joint statement issued at the conclusion of Putin's state visit to China in October 2004 was a clear indication of Beijing's and Moscow's abhorrence of the Bush administration's unilateral foreign policy. The statement noted that China and Russia "hold that it is urgently needed to [resolve] international disputes under the chairing of the UN and resolve crisis [sic] on the basis of universally recognized principles of international law. Any coercive action should only be taken with the approval of the UN Security Council and enforced under its supervision..."
Two weeks after this statement was released, and just prior to the US presidential election, Beijing's position against US unilateralism was again made explicit by China's former foreign minister Qian Qichen - arguably China's most distinguished diplomat.
In an opinion piece published in the state-controlled China Daily, Qian ripped Washington's unilateralism: "The United States has tightened its control of the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia." He noted that this control "testifies that Washington's anti-terror campaign has already gone beyond the scope of self defense". Qian went further, stating that: "The US case in Iraq has caused the Muslim world and Arab countries to believe that the superpower already regards them as targets [for] its ambitious democratic reform program."
To China and Russia, Washington's "democratic reform program" is a thinly disguised method for the US to militarily dispose of unfriendly regimes in order to ensure the country's primacy as the world's sole superpower. The China-Iran-Russia alliance can be considered as Beijing's and Moscow's counterpunch to Washington's global ambitions. From this perspective, Iran is integral to thwarting the Bush administration's foreign policy goals. This is precisely why Beijing and Moscow have strengthened their economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran. It is also why Beijing and Moscow are providing Tehran with increasingly sophisticated weapons.