Author: Medea Ivanidze
The digest covers China’s political, diplomatic, economic, and other activities in the South Caucasus region and relations between China and the South Caucasus countries. It relies on a wide variety of sources, including the Chinese media. It is worth noting that the Chinese media is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (according to the World Press Freedom Index China is nearly at the bottom of the list and ranks 179th out of 180 countries).
- Georgia introduced a visa-free regime for Chinese citizens
- Only Chinese state companies participate in Georgia’s tender for the highway leading to Russia’s border
- In January-August 2023 compared to the same period last year, Georgia’s exports to China decreased by 49.6%
- Chinese Ambassador met with Azerbaijan’s Digital Development and Transport Minister
- Georgia’s Economy Minister: Our ambition is to have up to 10 flights per day with China
- The 4th Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Cooperation Forum was held in Georgia
- TV Obiektivi started a series of programs dedicated to Xi Jinping
- Azerbaijan’s ruling party held a symposium to summarize the party’s visit to China
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Georgia introduced a visa-free regime for Chinese citizens
On September 11, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced that Georgia was introducing a visa-free regime for Chinese citizens.
According to the Prime Minister, one of his government’s main interests is the arrival of more tourists and economic investments.
“You know I had a very successful visit to China, which today is the second economy in the world, the strongest economy. One of our main interests is to strengthen trade and economic relations with China, to attract more investments from China, as well as to attract more tourists, to bring to Georgia. My visit served this purpose and, in general, strategic cooperation. The main component will be strengthening of trade-economic relations,” said Garibashvili according to Interpressnews.
He added that Chinese tourists were considered “one of the most desirable tourists in the world”, and that Georgia had direct flights with China noting that he had had a conversation with the Chinese Premier about tourism and flights.
He also said he “would like to point out the effectiveness of the Chinese government and system,” adding that a delegation from China arrived 2-3 days after he had met with the Premier.
The Georgian MFA said that according to the new regulation, Chinese citizens and persons permanently residing in the country would be able to enter Georgia without a visa and stay in the territory of the country for 30 days.
Only Chinese state companies participate in Georgia’s tender for the highway leading to Russia’s border
On September 22, Bm.ge reported that the Government of Georgia was planning to completely modernize the highway leading to the border with Russia and for this, in June, the Department of Roads of Georgia announced a tender worth 246 million GEL.
Reportedly, five companies offered the construction of this road,all of them Chinese state companies: Hunan Road & Bridge Construction Group Company Ltd; Guizhou Highway Engineering Group Co, Ltd; China Communications Construction Company Limited; China Railway Tunnel Group Co; China Railway 23rd Bureau Group.
Chinese Ambassador met with Azerbaijan’s Digital Development and Transport Minister
A photo from the meeting. Source: The Embassy of China to Azerbaijan
On September 19, the Ambassador of China to Azerbaijan, Guo Min, met with Azerbaijan’s Minister of Digital Development and Transport, Rashad Nabiyev.
The Chinese Embassy said that China stood ready to work with Azerbaijan to further strengthen communication and deepen cooperation under the framework of joint construction of the Belt and Road, and make contributions to promote bilateral relations to a new level.
The report announced that Nabiyev would pay a visit to China as the head of the delegation.
Reportedly, he expressed his wishes “to take this visit as an opportunity to have an in-depth exchange of views with relevant Chinese departments and enterprises, and to jointly explore the potential for cooperation in various fields such as transportation, information and communication, innovative technology, and tourism, so as to push forward the greater development of Azerbaijan-China relations”.
In January-August 2023 compared to the same period last year, Georgia’s exports to China decreased by 49.6%
On September 19, Geostat reported that in January-August 2023, China was the fourth-biggest trading partner of Georgia – the turnover between the two countries amounted to $1 096.2 million (7.8% of Georgia’s total trade).
China was Georgia’s seventh-biggest trading partner by exports ($253.3 million), which was 6.2% of total exports. Compared to January-August 2022, that was a 49.6% decrease.
China was Georgia’s fourth-biggest import partner with $842.8 million (8.5% of total imports). Compared to the same period last year, that was a 15.9% growth.
Georgia’s Economy Minister: Our ambition is to have up to 10 flights per day with China
On September 11, the Minister of Economy of Georgia, Levan Davitashvili, said that they had agreed that soon they would have at least one flight per day with China and added the following: “But our ambition is more – to tell you directly, up to 10 flights per day may be our target with different cities in China in order to be able to manage flows that will be noticeable and bring tangible results from an economic point of view”.
The Minister said that they were working with China Southern Airlines to increase direct flights and add more cities.
He said that in the first phase, they would have at least one flight per day – 7 flights per week and it would be a three-way flight – Beijing – Urumqi – Tbilisi.
The Chinese Ambassador discussed China-Azerbaijan relations in an interview
On September 18, Trend published an interview with the Ambassador of China to Azerbaijan, Guo Min.
Guo Min said that several Chinese enterprises were “proactively championing investment and construction initiatives for photovoltaic power plants to foster the growth of the local green economy” in Azerbaijan’s regained territories.
“Many companies have conducted research through on-site inspections and have actively participated in various projects, including initiatives like smart villages and the provision of testing equipment for airports. Currently, certain enterprises are actively advancing investment and construction projects focused on photovoltaic power plants, aimed at contributing to the development of the local green economy. Chinese companies are well-informed about the investment promotion measures undertaken by Azerbaijan to bolster infrastructure development in the liberated areas and enhance the overall investment and business environment. Chinese business circles are fully prepared to engage in consultations with the Azerbaijani side regarding specific projects spanning the domains of renewable energy, infrastructure construction, production of building materials, information, and communication technologies, and more,” the Ambassador said.
Guo Min said that the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative strongly aligned with the concept of the Middle Corridor and added that China was prepared to strengthen transportation cooperation with Azerbaijan as part of the joint construction of the BRI.
She noted that China was eager to facilitate exchanges between relevant departments and businesses of both countries, advancing the digitization of logistics and transportation among other things.
Guo Min reportedly underscored China’s “high regard” for the strategic geographical significance of the Middle Corridor, “serving as a vital link between Europe and Asia”.
The Ambassador also mentioned that the BRI was deeply intertwined with the “Azerbaijan 2030: National Priorities for socio-economic development” strategy.
She emphasized that China was fully prepared to collaborate closely with Azerbaijan, aiming to enhance policy alignment, among other things.
Azertac joins China-organized media tour
A photo from the event. Source: Azertac
On September 22, Azertac reported that China’s Xufang International Media Group and the Government of China’s Henan Province organized a media tour for foreign journalists, bloggers, and vloggers to Zhengzhou, China. Azertac joined the tour.
Reportedly, they got acquainted with the history and culture of Zhengzhou.
The participants also attended the World Great Rivers Civilization Forum held in Zhengzhou under the theme “Mutual learning among civilizations: Jointly building a community of a shared future for humanity” organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China.
Azerbaijan’s ruling party held a symposium to summarize the party’s visit to China
A photo from the meeting. Source: The Embassy of China to Azerbaijan
On September 21, the Deputy Chairman of the New Azerbaijan Party, Head of the Central Office, Tahir Budagov held a symposium to summarize the New Azerbaijan Party delegation’s visit to the People’s Republic of China.
More than 50 people including the Ambassador of China to Azerbaijan, Guo Min, the Head of the New Azerbaijan Party delegation Ziyafat Askerov, delegation members, and representatives from the Central Office of the New Azerbaijan Party participated.
In his speech, Tahir Budagov said that by the invitation of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the New Azerbaijan Party delegation of 19 members paid a visit to China from 11 to 19 September.
They participated in the international inter-party conference on “Stories of the CCP: Qinghai’s Achievements in Practicing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” and visited Urumqi, Xining, Beijing, Qingdao and other places in China.
The Embassy said that the New Azerbaijan Party was looking forward to enhancing top-level dialogues and institutionalized exchanges with the CCP, “deepening practical cooperation in various fields, and laying a solid political foundation for the development of bilateral relations”.
Tbilisi Chinese Film Festival held in Georgia
A photo from the event. Source: The Embassy of China to Georgia
On September 17, the Tbilisi Chinese Film Festival, hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Georgia, China Film Administration, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth of Georgia held its opening ceremony at National Archive Cinema Hall, the Chinese Embassy reported.
The Ambassador of China to Georgia Zhou Qian, the Chairman of the Culture Committee of the Georgian Parliament Eliso Bolkvadze, and the Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports, and Youth Irakli Giviashvili, attended the event.
The Ambassador said that it was the first offline Chinese cultural event held in Tbilisi since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Chinese Embassy wrote the following: “In March this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Civilization Initiative, advocating the strengthening of people-to-people exchanges and cooperation, and the promotion of mutual learning and mutual appreciation among different civilizations”. It added that China was willing to take this film festival as an opportunity to promote mutual cultural understanding and jointly implement the Global Civilization Initiative.
The Embassy also said that the Georgian Ministry would “do its best to present the Chinese Film Festival and promote the deepening of cultural exchanges between Georgia and China”.
The 4th Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Cooperation Forum was held in Georgia
A photo from the event. Source: BRITACOF
On September 11-13, the 4th Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Cooperation Forum (BRITACOF) themed Improving Tax Environment was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, BRITACOF reported.
The event was hosted by the Revenue Service of Georgia, “aiming to pool wisdom and share insights in terms of improving tax environment, enhancing tax administration capacity, promoting tax administration in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) jurisdictions, and facilitating global economic recovery”.
The Moderator of council meetings was Wang Daoshu, the Executive Secretary of the BRITACOM Secretariat and the Deputy Commissioner of the State Taxation Administration of China.
At the opening Ceremony, the Minister of Finance of Georgia, Lasha Khutsishvili, delivered a welcome speech to all the delegates and Wang Daoshu updated the work progress of the BRITACOM.
“Looking ahead, the BRITACOM will continue to play its role as a bridge to strengthen the cooperation among parties of the BRITACOM, and make unremitting efforts to contribute to the building of a growth-friendly tax environment, with an aim to benefit BRI jurisdictions and other developing economies,” the report said.
Reportedly, more than 300 delegates, including 25 heads and deputy heads of tax authorities from 32 jurisdictions attended the event onsite and remotely.
Imereti and Guizhou signed a cooperation memorandum
A photo from the event. Source: The State Representative Administration
Imereti State Representative Zviad Shalamberidze was on an official delegation to Guizhou, China, the State Representative Administration reported on September 19.
The Governor of Imereti met with the Governor of Guizhou province, Li Pingjun, and other representatives.
Within the framework of the visit, a memorandum of mutual cooperation was signed. Within its framework, the parties are to jointly implement exchange programs in the economy, trade, education, culture, tourism, and “other important areas”.
Shalamberidze said that Georgia valued friendship and partnership with China and expressed readiness to cooperate with China in many directions.
During his visit, Shalamberidze visited Chinese enterprises and Guiyang Medical University where the parties discussed the perspective of mutual cooperation between higher educational institutions and the implementation of joint projects in the future.
Chinese Ambassador and Xinhua representatives discussed cooperation between Azerbaijan and Xinhua
A photo from the meeting. Source: The Embassy of China to Azerbaijan
On September 22, the Ambassador of China to Azerbaijan, Guo Min, met with China’s state media Xinhua News Agency’s Secretary-General Jing Ruyue and his delegation in Azerbaijan. The Embassy of China reported that they exchanged views on China-Azerbaijan media cooperation and deepening cooperation between Xinhua News Agency and Azerbaijan’s mainstream media.
TV Obiektivi started a series of programs dedicated to Xi Jinping
Zhou Qian (second from the left), Irma Inashvili (in the middle), Badri Natchkebia (first from the right), and others. Source: The Embassy of China to Georgia
On September 21, the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia, Zhou Qian, was invited to visit the Obiektivi Television. The Embassy of China characterized it as “one of the top ten televisions in Georgia”.
Reportedly, the Ambassador spoke to the station’s board of directors on promoting relevant cooperative programs and accepted an invitation for an interview with the television.
The journalist Badri Natchkebia, who according to Obiektivi was also a consultant professor of Xinjiang University, said that TV Obiektivi had started a series of programs dedicated to “a prominent Chinese political and public figure”, Xi Jinping, and there would be a TV program series, “Xi Jinping’s way”.
“You will get to know Xi’s broad cultural horizons, his people and country-oriented deep feelings, as well as China’s views on… the common development of all humanity…” The Ambassador said.
The Ambassador expressed hope that through this program, Georgian viewers would learn more about China’s development and culture, the Belt and Road Initiative, and a community of a shared future for mankind. He also said hoped that there would be more interest and trust in cooperation between China and Georgia in various fields.
The largest Chinese exhibition in Georgia was held
A photo from the exhibition. Source: Bm.ge
“World Trade Expo 2023”, reportedly, the largest Chinese exhibition in Georgia, was held on September 23-25 at the 11th pavilion of ExpoGeorgia, Tbilisi.
Bm.ge reported that about 100 companies were represented at the event, offering “new business opportunities and high-quality products” from China.
The organizers of the exhibition, Kanchen International Exhibition Group, told media that the event would help deepen the relationship between the two countries and move it to a new level.