BEIJING - Iran has cancelled a $2 billion contract for a Chinese firm to help build a hydroelectric dam, Chinese state media said on Thursday, a move that risks upsetting one of Tehran’s most important economic and political allies. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due to visit China next week for a security summit, where he is expected to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme. In March 2011, Iran’s official IRNA news agency said China’s Sinohydro Corp. had signed a contract with Iranian hydro firm Farab to build the dam, described as the world’s tallest, in Iran’s western province of Lorestan.
The Global Times, a popular tabloid owned by Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, said the Iranian government had decided to cancel the contract. The report did not cite sources or give a reason.
But it quoted Iranian media reports as saying Iran’s central bank was “dissatisfied” with financing options offered by China.
A Sinohydro official told Reuters by telephone the company was “checking with colleagues in Tehran on this issue”. China’s Foreign Ministry said it had no information about the case.
Guo Xian’gang, vice president of the China Institute of International Studies, a government think tank, said he did not see the cancellation affecting Sino-Iran ties.
“Some projects may be cancelled due to some technical reasons, other projects are still going on, it is really normal,” Guo said. “The outside world does not need to exaggerate this.”
Guo, who is an expert on the Middle East, added the cancellation would not affect Ahmadinejad’s visit to China.