|ავტორი: David Batashvili, Research Fellow at the Rondeli Foundation|
China Radar: South Caucasus is a monthly publication by Rondeli Foundation (GFSIS) dedicated to China’s activities and influence in the three nations of South Caucasus.
With the global rise of great power tensions and competition related to China’s role in the world, Rondeli Foundation began to take a closer look at China’s role in our own region. Since July 2020, we have been publishing China’s Activities in the South Caucasus digest that exhaustively covers events and developments in this regard. China Radar builds on China’s Activities digest to provide experts, researchers, civil servants, and other observers of China’s foreign strategy with a comprehensive summary of China’s political, diplomatic, economic, informational, soft power, and other activities towards Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia as well as these nations’ stances and actions concerning China.
Sources of information provided in China Radar can be found in the issues of China’s Activities digest covering the relevant months unless indicated otherwise. All issues of both China Radar and China’s Activities digest can be found on Rondeli Foundation’s China Watch page.
China’s Presence, Activities and Influence in the South Caucasus
Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s external affairs department official, Qian Hongshan, held a meeting with Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party MP, Giorgi Amilakhvari, on 22 September. The CCP representative stressed his party’s willingness to maintain friendly contact with the Georgian Dream.
On 15 September, during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, met with the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.
Xi said that “China welcomes Azerbaijan to join China in implementing the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative,” adding that the two countries needed to “increase the number of China-Europe Express freight train services [running through Azerbaijan], and ensure unimpeded international supply chains”. Xi also expressed confidence in the prospects of the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation between China and Azerbaijan.
Reporting on the meeting, Chinese foreign ministry said that “China supports Azerbaijan in conducting cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.”
On 30 September, China’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, Guo Min, published a letter expressing readiness “to implement the important consensus reached by the two leaders, to deepen practical cooperation between the two countries in the joint construction of the Belt and Road.”
In a 21 September meeting with the Georgian prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, said he appreciated that Georgia advanced the Belt and Road cooperation.
In a letter published at the webpage of the Chinese embassy in Georgia on 5 September, China’s ambassador, Zhou Qian, praised Georgia as China’s reliable partner that had been “one of the first to respond to the Belt and Road Initiative.”
On 27 September, Zhou Qian met with a Georgian Dream MP, Eliso Bolkvadze, welcoming “the Georgian side’s active participation in various cultural cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative framework.”
On 29 September, ambassador Zhou Qian published an article in Georgian Times, noting that “geographically, Georgia is a close neighbor of the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization]” and calling Georgia “an important partner of the Belt and Road Initiative.”
Chinese ambassador to Armenia, Fan Yong, made a statement on 28 September saying China was ready to “promote the high-quality development of the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative” with Armenia.
Propaganda and Disinformation
Chinese media kept up its attacks on Georgia’s democratic Rose Revolution of 2003 in September 2022. The materials portraying the revolution as an American plot were published by News China on 5 September as well as by China News on 20 and 26 September.
Stances and Activities by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Benefiting China’s Foreign Policy
Support for China and its Policies
According to the Chinese foreign ministry information regarding Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev’s messages in his 15 September meeting with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, “Azerbaijan adheres to the One-China policy, firmly supports China in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity firmly oppose any actions that interfere in China’s internal affairs or split China, and firmly supports China in safeguarding its core interests. The Azerbaijani side supports the GSI [Global Security Initiative] and GDI [Global Development Initiative] proposed by the Chinese side, and will actively engage in Belt and Road cooperation with the Chinese side.”
In a 21 September meeting with the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, prime minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, said that his country would “will continue to abide by the One-China principle and uphold a just position on China-related issues.” He added that “Georgia supports and actively participates in the Belt and Road cooperation, and looks forward to fully utilizing its geographical advantages to build a regional cooperation corridor.”