In an open letter to world leaders and the United Nations Secretary-General, 74 Iranian political and civil activists wrote that the agreement between Iran and China "is a threat to world peace and stability."
Addressed to the leaders of the United States, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the UN secretary-general, the letter described Iran and China as "totalitarian" regimes and the agreement "a major step forward" in favor of the communist government of China.
"As the regional hub for the new Silk Road project, Iran is giving China an extraordinary access to the region," the activists wrote.
Referring to an already high level of military cooperation between Tehran and Beijing, the signatories to the letter added, "China and Iran are working on a major arms deal" and "we have once again reached a point of confrontation between democratic nations and totalitarian governments that are after changing the world order."
On June 21, President Hassan Rouhani's cabinet approved the draft of a 25-year comprehensive program of Iran-China cooperation, and instructed the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif to sign the document after final negotiations with the Chinese side.
Zarif previously traveled to Beijing to hold talks with the Chinese side and finalize the agreement, and Rouhani's government has expressed hope that the agreement will be signed before the end of its term next summer.
In their letter, Iranian activists at home and abroad described the agreement as "an ominous alliance between communism and political Islam," which they said would have "many catastrophic consequences for the Iranian people and the international community."
According to the signatories to the letter, one of the consequences of the Tehran-Beijing agreement will be "a significant increase in the influence of China and the Islamic Republic in the region" and "by doing so, the two regimes, per their ambitious aims, will increase their support of terrorist organizations to control the key strategic locations.
The activists argued that "this dangerous alliance will be a significant strategic threat to world peace and stability."
Insisting that the people of Iran have repeatedly shown that they are genuine allies of the free world, the letter has called on the U.N. member nations and the Secretary-General to "support the will of the Iranian people," and join an international coalition to help Iranians move toward democracy peacefully and away from violence.
Among the signatories inside Iran are prominent lawyer Giti Pourfaze, students rights activist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, Ayatollah Ma'soumi Tehrani, documentary director Mohammad Nourizad and the National Front leader, Kourosh Za'eim.
Celebrities and political activists outside Iran, including Mary Apik, Dariush, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Parviz Sayyad, and Sam Rajabi also signed the letter.
No official information has been released about the cooperation document between Iran and China, but critics and opponents of Iran have strongly condemned it.
Some critics, including the U.S. State Department, compare the proposed agreement with the notorious Turkmenchay Treaty between Iran and Tsarist Russia in 1828. Under the treaty, Iran ceded control of parts of its territory in the southern Caucasus to Russia.
Iranian officials dismissed the criticism as baseless and promised to make the agreement public once the text is finalized.