China anticipated the backlash against Ahmadinejad’s victory. On Monday, The Global Times newspaper quoted the former Chinese ambassador to Iran, Hua Liming, that the Iranian situation would get back to normalcy only if a negotiated agreement was reached among the “major centers of political power … But, if not, the recent turmoil in Thailand will possibly be repeated”. It is quite revealing that the veteran Chinese diplomat drew a parallel with Thailand.
However, Hua underscored that Ahmadinejad does enjoy popularity and has “lots of support in this nationalist country because he has the courage to state his own opinion and dares to carry out his policies”. The consensus opinion of Chinese academic community is also that Ahmadinejad’s re-election will “test” Obama.
Thus, Thursday’s China Daily editorial is broadly in the nature of an appeal to the Obama administration not to spoil its new Middle East policy, which is shaping well, through impetuous actions. Significantly, the editorial upheld the authenticity of Ahmadinejad’s election victory: “Win and loss are two sides of an election coin. Some candidates are less inclined to accept defeat.”
Be that as it may, the Hu-Ahmadinejad meeting in Yekaterinburg on Tuesday once again shows Beijing has a very clear idea about the ebb and flow of Iran’s politics. Hu demonstrably accorded to Ahmadinejad the full honor as Beijing’s valued interlocutor.