|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 ambassador to Armenia, Fan Yong, promoted Sino-Armenian cooperation within the Belt and Road Initiative in an interview published on 12 January. Fan Yong also praised Chinese participation in the North-South Highway project in Armenia, and spoke of building the “China-Armenia community with shared future“ expressing support for Armenia’s involvement in the Global Development Initiative proposed by the CCP Chairman Xi Jinping.
Li Yan, China’s ambassador to Georgia, expressed her wish for China and Georgia to push forward cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative in her 14 January meeting with the Georgian deputy foreign minister Alexander Khvtisiashvili.
In an article published on 28 January, Li Yan used the Beijing Winter Olympics to promote the Chinese government’s concept of the mankind’s “community with shared future.”
Propaganda and Disinformation
The Chinese media continued to attack Georgia’s 2003 democratic Rose Revolution in January 2022. Materials targeting the Rose Revolution were published by China News on 1 January, by Sina Media on 2 and 7 January, by Global Times on 10 January, and by China Daily on 14 January. CGTN published an attack against the Rose Revolution on 27 December 2021 (omitted in our Issue 8 of the China Radar covering December 2021).
Global Times published disinformation about the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 on 24 and 27 January 2022, trying to paint Georgia as the culprit causing the war of Russian aggression.
Economic Involvement and Connections
As the National Statistics Office of Georgia reported on 20 January 2022, in 2021 China had remained Georgia’s third-largest overall trade partner with 10.3 percent of the country’s total turnover. China also remained Georgia’s first export partner with 14.5 percent, and third import partner with 8.6 percent. 80.7 percent of Georgia’s exports to China in 2021 were copper ores and concentrates.
As reported on 19 January, China’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, Guo Min, expressed interest on behalf of the Chinese companies in the investments on the territories regained by Azerbaijan in its war with Armenia in the fall of 2020, particularly in developing the manufacturing. Guo Min also said that Chinese companies had already been actively involved in reconstruction works in these territories. Huawei company reportedly is involved in developing “smart cities and smart villages” in the regained Azerbaijani territories.
South Caucasus Actors Expressing Support for China
As reported on 27 January, the CEO of the Hualing Free Industrial Zone in Georgia, Soso Nibladze, said that Georgia and Azerbaijan had key roles within the Belt and Road Initiative.
Benyamin Poghosyan, the chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies in Yerevan, Armenia, praised China’s “astonishing success” on 10 January while attending online the CCP’s Second Dialogue on Exchanges and Mutual Learning among Civilizations conference, saying that internationally experts had begun to try learning lessons from China’s experience.
On 19 January, Mher Sahakyan, the director of the China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research, took part in an event affiliated with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization praising the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and saying it was providing ways to world leaders for “solving problems and starting dialogue for peace and security.”
Stances and Activities by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Benefiting China’s Foreign Policy
Support for the Belt and Road Initiative
In an interview published by the Chinese media on 6 January, Azerbaijan’s deputy prime minister and deputy chairman of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, Ali Ahmadov, said that Azerbaijan was making every effort to help the development of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Georgian ambassador to China, Archil Kalandia, stressed in an interview published on 28 January that Georgia was actively involved in the BRI.
Other Support for China and its Policies
Armenian ambassador to China, Sergey Manassarian, said on 14 January that Armenia “firmly adhered” to the one-China principle, and supported China’s position on the issues of Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet.
Manassarian also spoke against the boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics saying that politics should be separated from the Olympics.
On 24 January, Manassarian expressed support for China’s foreign strategy concept of the “community with shared future for mankind.“
On 27 January, Manassarian once again spoke against the Olympic boycott, “and discrimination including diplomatic boycott.“
Georgia’s deputy foreign minister, Alexander Khvtisiashvili, in a 14 January meeting with the Chinese ambassador, Li Yan, confirmed that Georgia would adhere to the one-China principle.