Author: Medea Ivaniadze, Junior Researcher at Rondeli Foundation
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).
- Chinese Ambassador: Opposition to imperialism and colonialism corresponds to the common interests of China and Georgia
- Chinese Ambassador: Any small disagreement between China and Georgia affects the interests of Georgia badly because China-Georgia relations are part of Georgia’s interests
- Chinese Ambassador claims that China provided vaccines to Georgia, while “US and European countries banned the export of vaccines”
- In January-October 2023 compared to the same period last year, Georgia’s exports to China decreased by 54.9%
- In January-October 2023, Azerbaijan’s trade turnover with China increased by 47.5%
- Yerevan Mayor says that “the smart solutions” used in different cities of China could be useful for Yerevan
- Armenia and China discuss the prospects of developing cooperation between the Prosecutor’s Offices of the two countries within the framework of “mutual legal assistance”
- A legal dispute started between Sinohydro and the Roads Department of Georgia
- Azerbaijani delegation attends SCO’s Forum Year of Tourism 2023 in Urumqi
- Xinhua’s President notes the importance of deepening cooperation between Xinhua and Azertac in the news exchange field
- Armenian delegation attends the Chinese PLA Army Logistics Academy’s seminar
- Armenian-Chinese Partnership Center signed memorandums of understanding on strategic cooperation with 57 Chinese government agencies
Chinese Ambassador: Opposition to imperialism and colonialism corresponds to the common interests of China and Georgia
On November 28, Georgian Times published an interview with the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Zhou Qian.
A journalist, Malkhaz Gulashvili, asked him about the recent comments of the US Ambassador to Georgia, Robin Dunnigan, on Russia and China in the context of Georgia.
According to the translated interview, the Chinese Ambassador answered: “Our attention was drawn to this report in the media. First of all, I would like to emphasize that there is one truth in diplomatic relations, the enemy’s friend is not equal to your enemy. In another case, in the past, during the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which was caused by intense confrontation, did Georgia become Armenia’s enemy by strengthening its relations with Azerbaijan? In the same way, China-Russia cooperation does not pose a threat to China-Georgia relations, and it should also be said that the rapprochement of China and Russia came from Russia’s own interests. Chinese diplomacy is on the side of peace. The clearest example is the successful facilitation of the historic reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have recently been in a heated conflict”.
Then Zhou Qian spoke briefly about the Georgia-China strategic partnership and added: “I would like to emphasize that opposition to new and old imperialism and colonialism corresponds to the common interests of China and many developing countries, including Georgia, and the countries of the Global South. That is why China has always opposed any new form of imperialist and colonialist diplomacy by other countries”.
Gulashvili asked Zhou Qian about the recent comments of Georgia’s President Salome Zourabichvili about Xi Jinping, and the Ambassador noted that the Georgian Prime Minister’s administration “immediately took action and made a corresponding explanation, then the President’s administration made a corresponding explanation”. “We accept this explanation,” Zhou Qian said.
Malkhaz Gulashvili also asked the Ambassador about the East-West highway, Chinese companies’ participation, and the opposition’s critique about this.
The Ambassador spoke positively about the highway and Chinese companies’ participation and added: “As for doubts, no comment is needed, because facts will prevail over words”. Then he added the following remark: “As for the recently asked question regarding the President’s Administration, it should be noted that for friendly relations any small disagreement between China and Georgia affects the interests of Georgia badly because China-Georgia relations are part of Georgia’s interests”.
About the strategic partnership document, Zhou Qian said: “Even though only several months have passed since Gharibashvili’s visit, China-Georgia relations have already made many advances thanks to the strategic partnership”.
He said that after signing the strategic partnership document, high-level visits had been activated, and that the success of practical cooperation was visible, saying that “China has been the third largest trade partner of Georgia for a long time”.
He also noted that the Chinese investment made in Georgia reached 800 million US dollars.
“I would like to emphasize that political mutual trust is very important for large investment projects, after the two countries established a strategic partnership, more and more Chinese companies have expressed great interest in investing in Georgia,” Zhou Qian said.
Among other things, the Ambassador also talked about China’s policies, China-Georgia’s possible future cooperation, the recent US-China meeting, as well as Taiwan and Ukraine.
While discussing the recent US-China meeting, the journalist noted that President Biden called Xi Jinping a dictator, and asked the Ambassador “What kind of attitude was that?” Then the journalist continued: “Especially since I have been to China 12 times and I know that there are 39 parties in China and no one is forbidden from political pluralism and everyone can express their opinion, except for actions directed against the state and China’s security”.
Chinese Ambassador claims that China provided vaccines to Georgia, while “US and European countries banned the export of vaccines”
Zhou Qian, the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia, reportedly “highlighted” steps taken within the strategic partnership between the two countries by saying China was “always committed” to assisting Georgia in improving social and economic growth, Agenda reported on November 27.
He also claimed the following: “China provided more than 200,000 vaccines to Georgia during the Covid pandemic. At that time, the United States and European countries banned the export of vaccines”.
Zhou also said that the $1.5 million aid was provided to the Georgian Government during the pandemic, including masks and ventilators, to “overcome the effects of Covid and restart the economy”.
He noted the Chinese government’s financial assistance provided to Gori “for improving social infrastructure around the city and in villages”.
“We also want to show our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia,” Zhou said.
In January-October 2023 compared to the same period last year, Georgia’s exports to China decreased by 54.9%
On November 20, Geostat reported that in January-October 2023, China was the fourth-biggest trading partner of Georgia – the turnover between the two countries amounted to $1 406.1 million (7.9% of Georgia’s total trade).
China was Georgia’s seventh-biggest trading partner by exports ($274.1 million), which was 5.4% of total exports. Compared to January-October 2022, that was a 54.9% decrease.
China was Georgia’s fourth-biggest import partner with $1 132 million (8.9% of total imports). Compared to the same period last year, that was a 22.8% growth.
In January-October 2023, Azerbaijan’s trade turnover with China increased by 47.5%
In January-October 2023, Azerbaijan’s trade turnover with China increased by 47.5% compared to January-October 2022 and amounted to 2 574.3 million dollars, APA reported on November 28.
The exports from Azerbaijan to China increased by 39.7% to 73.6 million (0.25% of Azerbaijan’s total exports), and the imports from China increased by 47.7% to 2 500.6 million dollars (17.64% of Azerbaijan’s total imports).
Reportedly, non-oil products worth 27.1 million dollars were exported from Azerbaijan to China in January-October 2023.
Yerevan Mayor says that “the smart solutions” used in different cities of China could be useful for Yerevan
A photo from the meeting. Source: Yerevan Municipality
Yerevan Mayor Tigran Avinyan hosted the Ambassador of China to Armenia Fan Yong, Yerevan Municipality reported on December 1.
Noting the cooperation established between Yerevan and Qingdao, the Mayor said that the parties should work consistently to put into practice the signed document.
Avinyan also noted that the smart solutions used in different cities of China could be useful for Yerevan.
Armenia and China discuss the prospects of developing cooperation between the Prosecutor’s Offices of the two countries within the framework of “mutual legal assistance”
A photo from the meeting. Source: Armenia’s Prosecutor’s Office
On November 24, the Prosecutor General of Armenia Anna Vardapetyan met with a delegation led by the Ambassador of China to Armenia Fan Yong, Armenia’s Prosecutor’s Office reported.
Vardapetyan said she attached importance to the organization of meetings in this format, “which shall promote the efficient cooperation between the law enforcement authorities of two countries”.
The Ambassador noted that China was interested in the direct cooperation with the Prosecutor General’s Office of Armenia and that it also implied the implementation of experience exchange programs between the two Prosecutor’s Offices.
They also discussed the prospects of developing cooperation between the Prosecutor’s Offices of two countries within the framework of “mutual legal assistance”.
The Chinese Ambassador, Georgian scholars participate in “The 10th Anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative: International Symposium on Chinese Modernization and Development Experience”
A screenshot from the event. Source: The Embassy of China in Georgia
On November 24, the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia, Zhou Qian, was invited to “The 10th Anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative: International Symposium on Chinese Modernization and Development Experience” hosted by the Institute of Social Development Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Embassy of China in Georgia reported. Reportedly, several Georgian scholars participated in the event.
“I am very happy to participate in today’s seminar with experts and scholars from China and Georgia to exchange the achievements and experiences of the Belt and Road Initiative over the past ten years, and to discuss the important drawing lessons significance of Chinese-style modernization to the vast number of developing countries, including Georgia…” the Ambassador said in his speech.
The 23rd Bureau of China Railways is in a dispute in Georgia
On November 28, Bm.ge reported that the Georgian state was in dispute with one of its largest Chinese contractor companies, the “23rd Bureau of China Railways”.
Reportedly, the dispute concerns the fourth 9.5-kilometre lot of the Samtredia-Grigoleti road built by the company. The road was built with a loan from the European Investment Bank, costing GEL 113 million.
The Roads Department said that the fourth section of the Samtredia-Grigoleti road would be closed for inspection from November 27 to December 9.
The statement said that “planned inspection and relevant measures will be carried out by the contractor company within the warranty period stipulated by the contract”.
The Bm.ge reported that the content of the ongoing dispute with the “23rd Bureau of China Railway” is not yet known.
A legal dispute started between Sinohydro and the Roads Department of Georgia
A dispute started between the Chinese company, Sinohydro, and the Roads Department of Georgia, Bm.ge reported on November 22.
Reportedly, the case is about the 96-million project for the rehabilitation of the Khulo-Zarzma road, which consists of two lots of 42 kilometres and the construction of the 6.4-kilometre 4-lane road of Zemo Osiauri-Chmateleti, costing 265 million.
The report said that the original contract signed with international law firm Hogan Lovells says in the description of the dispute “Sinohydro Corporation Limited against the Road Department of Georgia”, and in the updated contract concerning the Upper Ossiauri-Chumateleli section, it is not specified which party is the plaintiff.
Armenia’s Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Narek Mkrtchyan received a delegation of the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China
A photo from the meeting. Source: Radar.am
Armenia’s Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Narek Mkrtchyan received the delegation of the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China headed by Deputy Minister Zhang Chengfu. Perspectives of sectoral cooperation and several issues of mutual interest were discussed, Radar.am reported on November 23.
“We effectively cooperate with the Chinese Embassy in Armenia and have implemented many joint projects. We hope that further initiatives with the Ministry of Civil Affairs will also have a tangible result,” Mkrtchyan noted.
Armenian-Chinese Partnership Center signed memorandums of understanding on strategic cooperation with 57 Chinese government agencies
On November 20, the Chinese state-controlled Xinhua published content entitled “BRI benefits partner nations with vast opportunities”.
Reportedly, the Deputy President of the Armenian-Chinese Partnership Center Davit Mkhitaryan said that the center had signed memorandums of understanding on strategic cooperation with 57 Chinese government agencies, economic and trade associations and organizations, with 28 cooperation projects already in process.
“Since participating in the BRI, the trade volume between Armenia and China has shown almost three-fold growth. China is our second-largest trading partner. We are very optimistic about the Chinese market and its development potential,” Mkhitaryan said.
China and Azerbaijan note “the strategic nature of intergovernmental relations” between the two countries
Azerbaijan’s Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev met with the Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Guo Min, Azertac reported on November 23.
They reportedly noted the strategic nature of intergovernmental relations between Azerbaijan and China.
They “stressed the importance of continuing mutually beneficial cooperation” in the transport and transit fields, especially the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as the joint promotion of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route.
The parties also discussed a number of draft documents, which would be signed in the near future to improve the legal framework and expand cooperation mechanisms.
The Baku Higher Oil School of SOCAR sign a cooperation agreement with the China University of Petroleum
A photo from the event. Source: Trend
The Baku Higher Oil School of SOCAR (BHOS) signed a cooperation agreement with the China University of Petroleum (CUP), Trend reported on November 22.
Reportedly, the document signed by BHOS Rector Elmar Gasimov and CUP Rector Wu Xiaolin provides for joint research activities, exchange of teachers, and students, educational and scientific materials, and organization of scientific forums and conferences.
The current state and further prospects of cooperation between BHOS and CUP were discussed at the meeting. The report said that “the importance” of implementing joint activities in the field of renewable energy and artificial intelligence had been emphasized.
Georgian, Chinese officials attend the Chinese Embassy-financed renovated community playground in Vake District
A photo from the event. Source: The Embassy of China to Georgia
On November 22, the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Zhou Qian was invited to attend the inauguration ceremony of a renovated community playground in Vake District, financed by the Chinese Embassy in Georgia, the Embassy reported. The Chairman of the Tbilisi City Council Giorgi Tkemaladze, the Member of the Parliament of Georgia Nodar Turdzeladze, the Head of Vake District David Kvinikadze attended the ceremony.
The Ambassador said that 2023 was the year of establishing strategic partnership between China and Georgia, and “assisting the development of Georgian society was an integral part of promoting the cooperation between the two countries”.
Vake district administration wrote that for the first time, the Vake district administration had received an international grant from China for the implementation of infrastructure projects and similar cooperation would continue in the future.
Azerbaijani delegation attends SCO’s Forum Year of Tourism 2023 in Urumqi
The International Exhibition Center of China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in Urumqi, China hosted the opening ceremony of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Forum Year of Tourism 2023, Trend reported on November 24.
Reportedly, over 300 leaders of tourism organizations, representatives of international organizations, government and business entities, and diplomats from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Algeria, Morocco, and Uzbekistan participated in the forum.
The employees of the State Tourism Agency and the Embassy of Azerbaijan in China attended the event.
Armenian delegation attends the Chinese PLA Army Logistics Academy’s seminar
Senior Colonel Wu Qian, the Speaker for China’s Ministry of National Defense said that the Chinese PLA Army Logistics Academy had held the Seminar on Defense Economy and Military Logistics in Chongqing, China on November 30, China Military reported.
Reportedly, delegates from Armenia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka attended the seminar online.
Azerbaijani Delegation attends “The 5th World Media Summit” in China
The 5th World Media Summit was held in Guangzhou, China, and reportedly gathered over 450 participants from 101 countries and regions, including representatives of 197 media outlets, think tanks, government agencies and diplomatic missions to China, and UN agencies and international organizations, News.az reported on December 3.
From Azerbaijan, the Executive Director of the Media Development Agency Ahmad Ismayilov, the Chairman of the AZERTAC Board Vugar Aliyev, the Head of the Section on Foreign Media Affairs of the Department for Work with NGOs and Communication of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan Orkhan Sattarov attended the event.
Xinhua’s President notes the importance of deepening cooperation between Xinhua and Azertac in the news exchange field
A photo from the meeting. Source: Azertac
An Azerbaijani delegation met with the President of Xinhua News Agency Fu Hua on the sidelines of the 5th World Media Summit held in Guangzhou, China, Azertac reported on December 2.
Fu Hua said that Xinhua attached great importance to the further expansion of cooperation with Azertac.
He reportedly hailed the long-term successful cooperation between Xinhua and Azertac in various areas, noting the importance of deepening cooperation between the two, especially in the field of exchange of news “in light of modern challenges”.
Fu Hua said that the exchange of economic news between the media outlets of Azerbaijan and China contributed to the cooperation between the two countries in the spheres of trade and economy, noting that it had also become “a useful source of information” for the countries’ public and private sector.
Noting that this year marks the 20th anniversary of partnership between Azertac and Xinhua, Vugar Aliyev, the Chairman of the Board of Azerbaijan State News Agency Azertac, said that exchange of news and experience, joint participation in various projects and the mutual support within international platforms were “a manifestation of close cooperation between the two news agencies”.
Chinese Ambassador conducts a lecture on “China’s economic miracle: experience of growth and innovation” at Leadership School Armenia
The Ambassador of China to Armenia Fan Yong shared “lessons in growth and innovation from China’s socio-economic development”, Leadership School Armenia reported on November 21.
According to the Chinese Embassy, he conducted a lecture on “China’s economic miracle: experience of growth and innovation”.
The Embassy report said that they had called on Armenia to follow the example of China’s development and to contribute to the strengthening and improvement of bilateral cooperation.
The Chinese Embassy to finance the rehabilitation project of the sports stadium in Gori municipality
A photo from the meeting. Source: The Embassy of China in Georgia
On November 27, the Ambassador of China to Georgia Zhou Qian met with the Mayor of Gori Vladimer Khinchegashvili. They signed a grant agreement within the framework of which the Embassy of China in Georgia is to finance the rehabilitation project of the sports stadium in several villages of Gori municipality.
The Embassy said that China wanted to promote the deepening of bilateral relations in various fields, including cooperation between the regions of Georgia and China.
“With this support project, the embassy hopes to contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of the local population affected by the conflict of South Ossetia and to the socio-economic progress of Georgia,” the Embassy said.