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Tehran Council Scrutinizes Municipality Deals With Chinese Firms

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The Tehran municipality is embroiled in controversy over several multi-million-euro contracts with Chinese companies.

Four Tehran City Council members have voiced concerns in a letter to the council head regarding the opacity and relevance of the transactions. The contracts have reportedly channeled two billion euros of Tehran’s budget towards relatively unknown Chinese entities.

The issue came to light through the efforts of media activist Yashar Soltani, who disclosed on his website that the Chinese construction company involved, established in 2010, was ill-equipped for the public transportation projects it was hired for.

The revelation prompted a heated debate in a Sunday council session, leading to a division among the members—seven of whom walked out in protest as Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani defended the contracts.

Zakani claimed that all transactions were conducted “transparently” and had been fully briefed to critical regulatory bodies like the ministry of industry and the central bank.

The contentious contracts include a 400 million euro agreement for “smart equipment and traffic control cameras” from a Chinese firm, raising alarms about potential security risks due to giving foreign companies access to “sensitive data”.

Furthermore, the letter to the council’s head criticized the planned purchase of 150,000 electric motorcycles and 27,500 new taxis, worth 225 million euros each, from the automaker GAC Aion, selected from numerous possible suppliers without a conventional tendering process.

The deals highlight concerns about the municipality’s dependence on Chinese firms, driven by the necessity to utilize foreign currency resources available in China, a strategy deeply influenced by the overarching impact of international sanctions on Iran.