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).
- Georgian Foreign Minister criticizes opponents of the Georgian Dream on signing the Georgia-China strategic partnership
- Georgian Economy Minister says Georgia’s participation in BRI forum was a sign of respect for the Chinese government and declining would be irresponsible
- Only Chinese state companies are offering Georgia to build a highway near the Russian border
- Xi Jinping is ready to continue efforts alongside Aliyev “to elevate bilateral relations of friendship” between China and Azerbaijan
- In January-November 2023 compared to the same period last year, Georgia’s exports to China decreased by 57.1%
- Azerbaijani MP says that a strategic partnership is being formed between Azerbaijan and China
- Chinese Ambassador says that the Chinese Embassy is ready to provide active support to Armenpress
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The Georgian Foreign Minister criticizes opponents of the Georgian Dream on signing the Georgia-China strategic partnership
On December 21, Agenda reported that Georgian Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili criticised negative statements reportedly made by the domestic opponents of the ruling Georgian Dream party on the signing of the Georgia-China strategic partnership as “baseless and often irresponsible”.
“These were traditionally irresponsible statements that harmed the country. However, we don’t really set our agenda according to their criticism… China has a strategic partnership with many EU member states. We have recently seen a high-level dialogue between the European Union and China, as well as a bilateral dialogue between the United States and China that took place recently. Accordingly, we are not afraid of unfounded and often irresponsible criticism of our opponents”, the Minister stated.
Xi Jinping is ready to continue efforts alongside Aliyev “to elevate bilateral relations of friendship” between China and Azerbaijan
The CCP Chairman, Xi Jinping, sent a congratulatory letter to the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, on the occasion of his birthday, APA reported on December 22.
Xi wrote that currently Chinese-Azerbaijani relations were developing “very well and steadily”, the political mutual trust was “constantly strengthening”, and cooperation across various areas was “yielding fruitful results”.
“I highly appreciate the efforts you have made to strengthen bilateral relations,” Xi wrote and added that he attached great importance to the development of relations between China and Azerbaijan and was ready to continue his efforts alongside Aliyev “to elevate bilateral relations of friendship”.
Georgian Economy Minister says Georgia’s participation in the BRI forum was a sign of respect for the Chinese government and declining would be irresponsible
On December 18, the Parliament of Georgia reported that during the session of the Sector Economy and Economic Policy Committee, the Deputy Prime Minister of Georgia and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Levan Davitashvili, addressed questions from the parliamentary political group Eurooptimists concerning his attendance at the Belt and Road Initiative forum in China, which was also attended by the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.
At the Parliament, he reportedly “emphasized the significance” of the BRI forum and also stated that the Georgian delegation’s participation in the forum was “a sign of respect” for the Chinese government, as there was a personal invitation from the President of China. The report also said that he said that declining this invitation “would have been an irresponsible approach given the evolving dynamics in the relationship between the two countries”.
Only Chinese state companies are offering Georgia to build a highway near the Russian border
On December 29, Bm.ge reported that as the Government of Georgia was planning to build a new highway near the Russian border, the Roads Department of Georgia had announced a tender worth 245.8 million GEL in June, and five companies offered the construction of this road – all of them are Chinese state companies:
- Hunan Road & Bridge Construction Group Company Ltd. – 377,391,902 GEL;
- Guizhou Highway Engineering Group Co.,Ltd. – 299,686,603 GEL;
- China Communications Construction Company Limited – 235,012,894 GEL;
- China Railway Tunnel Group Co., LTD. – 233,688,688 GEL;
- China Railway 23rd Bureau Group – 224,919,507 GEL.
Reportedly, the new road is one of the key sections of the new North-South highway.
In January-November 2023 compared to the same period last year, Georgia’s exports to China decreased by 57.1%
On December 19, Geostat reported that in January-November 2023, China was the fourth-biggest trading partner of Georgia – the turnover between the two countries amounted to $1 520 million (7.8% of Georgia’s total trade).
China was Georgia’s seventh-biggest trading partner by exports ($283.4 million), which was 5.1% of total exports. Compared to January-November 2022, that was a 57.1% decrease.
China was Georgia’s fourth-biggest import partner with $1 236.6 million (8.8% of total imports). Compared to the same period last year, that was a 21.4% growth.
Azerbaijani MP says that a strategic partnership is being formed between Azerbaijan and China
According to the December 22 APA report, an Azerbaijani MP from the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, Mushfig Jafarov, said that “a strategic partnership is being formed between Azerbaijan and China”.
Jafarov noted that “the friendly and partnership relations” between Azerbaijan and China were developing on “an upward line”.
He also added that China “was interested in forming multi-vector mutually beneficial cooperation relations in the geopolitical space stretching from Asia to Europe” and it “attached special importance to the realisation of energy and transport projects”.
Garibashvili says “a huge break” was made in China by becoming a strategic partner
On December 26, when delivering his speech at the Conference of Ambassadors, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, spoke about the strategic partnership agreement between Georgia and China.
“We made a huge break in China as we became a Strategic Partner with a country which is the second largest economy in the world. Development and further deepening of trade and economic interaction with China is very important for us,” he said.
Chinese Ambassador says that the Chinese Embassy is ready to provide active support to Armenpress
Fan Yong at the event. Source: Armenpress
On the day of the establishment of Armenpress, the agency brought together officials, public figures, politicians, and others, Armenpress reported on December 18.
There, Armenpress Director Narine Nazaryan announced that the Georgian, Persian and Chinese departments of the website had been created.
At the event, the Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong said the following: “As the official Armenian media, Armenpress has established working relations with Chinese partners. I am confident that the launch of the Chinese department of the Armenpress news agency will greatly contribute to a better mutual understanding and exchange of cultural values between China and Armenia, as well as strengthen ties between the peoples of the two countries”.
He added that the Embassy of China in Armenia was ready to provide active support to Armenpress and bring the Chinese-Armenian media cooperation to a new level.
Georgian Deputy Economy Minister says that the Agreement on International Passenger and Freight Transportation was reached with China
On December 22, Georgian Deputy Economy Minister Guram Guramishvili said that the Agreement on International Passenger and Freight Transportation was reached with China. According to him, it will contribute to the development of the Middle Corridor and boost trade between the countries, Agenda reported.
“From today, carriers registered in Georgia who transport cargo by land are given the opportunity to carry out direct transport operations in the territory of China. [This will] significantly increase the competitiveness of Georgian carriers in new markets”, Guramishvili said.
According to the Ministry of Economy, the agreement will facilitate attracting additional cargo routes to Georgia and encourage the introduction of Georgian products to the Chinese market through the reduction of transportation costs and shipping time.
Azerbaijani Minister says the main purpose of the Chinese delegation’s visit to Azerbaijan is the use the Middle Corridor
On December 28, Report wrote that at Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry’s year-end press conference, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, said that the Chinese delegation was on a visit to Azerbaijan and the main purpose of the visit was to use the Middle Corridor for Chinese goods.
“We will witness the further expansion of bilateral relations,” he added.
Armenian MP appears in the Chinese state media content on China
On January 2, the Chinese state media CGTN published a content entitled “Xi Jinping’s 2024 New Year address highlights global vision and peace”.
The publication also included the comments of a member of the National Assembly of Armenia, Hayk Mamijanyan, who said that China’s primary pursuit was “peace and development”. “Considering China’s importance in international politics, I think this will have an impact on the global situation,” he added.