Tropical Geography ›› 2021, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (6): 1153-1165.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003395

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Analysis of the Geopolitical Relations between China, the USA, Russia, and Iran From a Geo-Potential Perspective

Xiya Li1(), Debin Du1(), Junhua Chen2, Qifan Xia1   

  1. 1.Institute for World Geography and Geostrategy, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2.School of Urban and Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    3.Institute for Global Innovation and Development, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    4.School of Geographical Sciences, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
  • Received:2021-05-27 Revised:2021-08-31 Online:2021-11-05 Published:2021-11-16
  • Contact: Debin Du;


Iran is an important political power and strategic hub in the Middle East, connecting Central Asia and West Asia, acting as a significant route from Asia to North Africa and Europe; it is an intersection of the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road". Coupled with the enrichment of petroleum resources and the control of global oil security, Iran's geostrategic position is very important. This study constructs a geo-potential mathematical model and index system from a spatial perspective, including the geo-weight evaluation index system, weight distribution, interdependence index, and geo-distance measurements while innovatively incorporating the element of geostrategic investment willingness. Based on these factors, this study conducts a quantitative, comparative analysis of the geo-potential of China, the USA, and Russia in Iran after September 11st, 2001, from two dimensions—"strong-weak" and "positive-negative." Subsequently, the driving factors and mechanisms of geo-potential are obtained through mathematical model construction and empirical research. Finally, by placing Iran on regional and global scales and thoroughly considering both international and regional geopolitical patterns around foreign policy and strategy, we analyze geopolitical relations between China, the USA, Russia, and Iran: diplomatic, economic, and cultural factors considered from a geo-potential perspective. We hope that this study will enrich research on Iran studies and geopolitical studies, through its understanding of the power interaction mechanism and geopolitical relations between global powers and Iran, while providing a research basis to promote the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative. The following conclusions were drawn: (1) The USA's geo-potential in Iran fluctuates frequently in the negative high range, and Russia's geo-potential fluctuates slightly in the positive median range. Fluctuations between these two countries thus show a "strong - strong" interaction. The change of China's geo-potential is relatively separate from that of the USA and Russia, showing an "S" shaped curve trending upward, thus gradually narrowing the gap with Russia. Russia and China have a positive influence on Iran (attraction), while the USA has a negative influence on Iran (repulsion), which is much stronger than the attraction from Russia and China. (2) Geo-diplomacy is the decisive factor guiding the trend of geo-economy and geo-culture. Geo-economy is the direct driving force of the evolution of geo-potential. Geo-culture acts as a collaborative factor; geo-economy and geo-culture both have a potential influence on geo-diplomacy. (3) Based on amicable geo-cultural relations, the strengthening of China's comprehensive national strength and the deepening of bilateral economic interdependence constantly enhances the intensity of geopolitical relations between China and Iran. The geopolitical relationship between the USA and Iran is occasionally eased but is generally poor. Volatility is largely due to changes in foreign policy triggered by the change of governments, which is the dual response of the domestic political system and the international political environment. The close geopolitical relationship between Russia and Iran is owing to the geographical proximity and the need for a geo-strategy. There is a stable but complex geopolitical relationship network between these two countries, composed of economic, political, and security factors.

Key words: geo-potential, geopolitical relations, China, the USA, Russia, Iran

CLC Number: 

  • K901.4