Author: David Batashvili, Research Fellow at 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
China-Georgia Strategic Partnership
On 20 October, Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party representative Nikoloz Samkharadze said during the Georgian Parliament’s session that China was “our natural ally and natural partner” on matters of territorial integrity. Samkharadze also attacked the Georgian opposition for its critique of the government’s policy toward China.
On 20 October, the deputy head of the International Relations Department of China’s Central Committee of the Communist Party Li Shijia expressed gratitude to Azerbaijan and Georgia, along with Russia, Kazakhstan and Moldova, for their close involvement in and support of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
In an article published on 16 October, chargé d’affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Georgia, Xu Haizheng, promoted “benefits” of the Belt and Road Initiative and wrote that China-Georgia cooperation within the BRI had a “wide perspective.”
As reported on 9 October, Azerbaijan had joined the China National Space Administration’s International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) program.
South Caucasus Actors Expressing Support for China
On 18 October, the Chinese media published a comment by a Georgian journalist Eka Gulua who was covering the 3rd Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. Gulua said the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation was “the best way to connect economies to economies, business to business, and countries to countries,” calling it “our new future.”
The chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies in Armenia, Benyamin Poghosyan, published an article in the China Daily outlet on 25 October, writing the Armenia and China were looking forward to “achieving new heights” within the Belt and Road Initiative. Poghosyan also wrote that with the “US hegemony” in the world ending, “China, as a respected and responsible member of the international community, seeks to contribute to the secure, stable and prosperous development of the world.”
On 23 October, a Confucius class was launched at the Khazar University in Azerbaijan, with the Chinese ambassador Guo Min attending the event.
Stances and Activities by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Benefiting China’s Foreign Policy
Support for the Belt and Road Initiative
Georgia‘s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Levan Davitashvili expressed support for the “eight actions” to develop the Belt and Road Initiative announced by Xi Jinping at the 3rd Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.
Davitashvili spoke at the Forum stressing the Georgian government’s desire to strengthen the country’s transit role.
On October 18, at the 3rd BRI Forum in Beijing, the Energy Minister of Azerbaijan Parviz Shahbazov said the BRI served “development, security, and stability over a vast area by providing alternative transport corridors to manage uncertainties in the global supply chain and routes that diversify the delivery of energy resources to world markets.” Shahbazov put forward proposals to further develop the BRI and Azerbaijan’s role in it.
In a 26 October interview to the Chinese media, Georgia’s ambassador to China Archil Kalandia expressed his government’s readiness to participate more actively in the BRI, and stressed Georgia’s vital role in the Middle Corridor.