Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday was awarded an "honorary professor" title at China’s elite Peking University during a high-profile state trip.
University secretary Hao Ping awarded Raisi for his efforts strengthen ties between the two countries, according to Mehr News Agency, which monitors Middle Eastern news.
Raisi addressed faculty and students, telling them that forming a new world order requires distance from unilateralism – a veiled reference to the United States and its western allies.
Hi noted the historical bilateral relationship and made comparisons between the ancient Silk Road and China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the massive infrastructure project to connect Asia to Europe.
Peking University, founded in Beijing in 1898, is considered one of China’s best universities and ranks in the top 50 schools globally.
Thursday marked the end of Raisi’s visit to Beijing, during which both sides affirmed close economic and political ties and their rejection of Western standards of human rights and democracy.
The bulk of the China-Iran joint statement emphasized strong political and economic ties, the quest for peace and justice in the Middle East and denuclearization in spite of Tehran's suspected drive to produce atomic weapons.
In a meeting earlier with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Raisi expressed support for China's crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong and claim to self-ruling democratic Taiwan.
China and Iran portray themselves, alongside Moscow, as counterweights to American power, and have given tacit, and in Iran's case, material support to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"China supports Iran in safeguarding national sovereignty" and "resisting unilateralism and bullying," Xi said in a statement carried by Chinese state TV on its website.
Xi and Raisi attended the signing of 20 cooperation agreements including on trade and tourism, the Chinese government announced. Those add to a 25-year strategy agreement signed in 2021 to cooperate in developing oil, industry and other fields.
China is one of the biggest buyers of Iranian oil and a major source of investment.
Iran has struggled for years under trade and financial sanctions imposed by Washington and other Western governments. The U.S. government cut off Iran's access to the network that connects global banks in 2018.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.