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).



Crossroads of Peace and China

On May 31, the first cargo truck from Shanghai, China arrived in Yerevan, Armenia while passing through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran as part of the Crossroads of Peace project initiated by the Armenian government, reported. Reportedly, the journey took 20-22 days.


The Embassy activities

  • On May 29, the Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong invited the Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Armenia Arman Dilanyan to the Chinese Embassy. Reportedly, they exchanged views on promoting cooperation between relevant Chinese institutions and the Constitutional Court of Armenia.
  • On May 30, the Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong received the newly appointed UN Resident Coordinator in Armenia Françoise Jacob. The Chinese Embassy reported that they had discussed strengthening cooperation between the Chinese Embassy and UN agencies in Armenia.
  • On May 30, the Chinese Embassy in Armenia reported that the Ambassador of China to Armenia Fan Yong visited the second HSK exhibition in Armenia dedicated to studying abroad and employment. There he said that contacts and cultural exchanges were the main advantages of Chinese-Armenian cooperation and expressed hope that both sides would “follow the Global Civilization Initiative”. Reportedly, “thousands of local students and their parents” visited the exhibition to get information about studying and finding a job in China.


Other news

  • The President of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan sent a congratulatory message to the CCP Chairman Xi Jinping on the occasion of his birthday, Armenpress reported on June 15.

“It is clear that under your leadership, the People’s Republic of China has achieved impressive results, making progress in various fields and recording steady development. I believe that with joint efforts, we will contribute to further expanding and deepening Armenian-Chinese cooperation for the benefit of our peoples,” he wrote.

  • Armenia’s government approved the agreement with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China on the elimination of double taxation of income and the prevention of tax avoidance and evasion, reported on June 14.



Azerbaijan’s Minister of Defense meets with the Chinese military representative


A photo from the meeting. Source: Azertac

Azerbaijan’s Minister of Defense, Colonel General Zakir Hasanov received a delegation led by the Deputy Chief of Office for International Military Cooperation of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Major General Yao Qin, Azertac reported on June 14.

Hasanov expressed his confidence that such visits would contribute to Azerbaijani-Chinese military cooperation, while Yao Qin “highlighted the importance of such regular meetings” to exchange experience between armies of the two countries, as well as to further develop relations. He invited the Azerbaijani Defense Minister to attend the 11th Beijing Xiangshan Forum in Beijing in September 2024.

Reportedly, it was noted that China and Azerbaijan were always ready to provide support for ensuring regional peace and stability. The two sides also discussed issues of “mutual interest” of Azerbaijan and China in military, military-technical and military educational fields.


Azerbaijan reiterates its support for “one China policy”

On May 20, the speaker of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Aykhan Hajizada responded to the question regarding the Taiwan elections and the inauguration of the President of Taiwan, noting that Azerbaijan supported “one China policy” and it did “not recognize the independence of Taiwan”, Azertac reported.

On the same day, the Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan reported that “Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement supporting the one-China principle”.

It is noteworthy that the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to China Bunyad Huseynov also said that Azerbaijan expressed “its unwavering support for the one-China policy on all platforms”, Global Times reported on May 30.


Middle Corridor

  • On May 21, Azertac reported that, as part of the visit to China, an Azerbaijani delegation led by Chairman of the Azerbaijan Railways CJSC Rovshan Rustamov met with the Administrator of National Railway Administration China Liu Zhenfang to discuss prospects for cooperation.

They reportedly focused on strengthening cooperation between countries aimed at the development of the Middle Corridor for faster and safer transportation of goods between China and Europe.

  • On June 13, Aze media reported that the CJSC Azerbaijan Railways (ADY) was exploring the possibility of buying or building a terminal in China.

The Chairman of the company Rovshan Rustamov said that the Chinese market was a priority for Azerbaijan and they had decided to appoint a special representative in the country: “We may open a representative office in China”.



Chinese-Singaporean consortium to build Anaklia Port

On May 29, the Georgian Ministry of Economy reported that the selection process of the private partner of the Anaklia deep-water port project had been completed.

Georgian First Deputy Prime Minister Levan Davitashvili said that the qualification requirements for the selection of the private partner announced for the port project had been met by two bidders – the Swiss-Luxembourg company (Terminal Investment Limited Holding S.A. (T.I.L Holding S.A) and the Chinese-Singaporean consortium (China Communications Construction Company Limited (China) & China Harbor Investment Pte. Ltd ( Singapore), (subcontractors – China Road and Bridge Corporation and Qingdao Port International Co., Ltd.) adding that they had been given a deadline of May 20 to submit technical, commercial and financial proposals, as well as comments on contracts.

Davitashvili said that they had received proposals only from the Chinese consortium. He added that the Chinese Qingdao Port’s management company was a member of the consortium.

Davitashvili noted that the Georgian state had founded the company Anaklia Deep Water Port, which had already started preparatory works for the construction of marine infrastructure, and in the form of capital contribution it was given a part of the land needed for the first phase of construction works.

“After the selection of the investor, a joint company will be established, where the state company will have a 51% share, and the private partner will have 49%,” he said.

Davitashvili said that they had already conducted a construction tender, which reportedly was conducted according to the rules of the World Bank and received three applications, which were now processed in parallel and in the near future they would have a winning company in the construction tender.

According to Davitashvili, there were allocations in the Georgian state budget to finance the state’s part of the Anaklia deep-water port project.

Reportedly, the construction work will take several years. “This year the organization of important construction works will begin, which will be actively continued in 2025-2026 and the funds for which will be taken from the state budget,” Davitashvili added.

In the end of May 2021, the Anaklia Deep Water Port Development Agency signed a contract with the international consulting company MTBS (Maritime & Transport Business Solutions B.V.), the Ministry of Economy of Georgia noted in a statement about the Anaklia port project.

On June 3, Irakli Kobakhidze also said that the marine works of the port of Anaklia would start very soon: “The indicative investment volume of the first term is $600 million, and after the completion of this phase, the port will receive 600 000 containers”.

  • ge reported the comments of Georgia’s Prime Minster Irakli Kobakhidze regarding the Anaklia port project: “We have heard a lot of speculation about the Chinese company. Meanwhile, this is one of the largest Chinese state companies, which has great experience… the winning of this tender by the Chinese company ensures that the Anaklia project will be implemented at the highest level. As for the political opponents who were once involved in the processes of Anaklia, I would like to remind you that the state has made many postponements for them to attract investors, but… over the years they have never been able to attract an investor. It is their responsibility, but they are trying to shift this responsibility to others…” He also added that the implementation of this project with the participation of the Chinese company had “a special importance” because “the Chinese cargo has special importance for the maximum effective functioning of this port”. He said that there was no place for “speculation” and continued: “but we see that whoever started these speculations receives grants from suspicious sources, and this anti-Chinese [campaign], which is promoted by certain politicians and NGOs, is dictated by this.”

Other ruling party officials and affiliated politicians also commented similarly.

People’s Power representative Guram Macharashvili said: “Through the port of Anaklia, we have practically seen that Georgia has become the main actor of the Middle Corridor, which is very beneficial for us not only from the economic point of view, which is very important, but also from the point of view of increasing [our] political importance. Of course, some countries and the radical opposition do not like this. Along with [their] ignorance, you have seen their narrative – they say that this Chinese company is benefiting Russia… How can a Chinese company benefit Russia here, when they are actually competitors…”

The Georgian Dream Chairman Irakli Garibashvili said that everyone “should be happy to see China’s interest in this strategic port”.

Georgian Dream MP Paata Kvijinadze also expressed his opinion regarding the project in the context of “security”: “Imagine, in what kind of region it is happening, the Caspian Sea is divided between Russia, Iran and several other countries. Also, the republics of Central Asia. The most influential country here is China, which can provide both security and cargo volume. There are no cargos now. We are talking about a port with a cargo turnover of 80-100 million, and such cargo would not exist without China”.

  • Meanwhile, the President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili criticized the decision: “[Needless to say] anything about the fact that bringing the Chinese to Anaklia in such a dose is a stab in our relations with our American or European partners”.

Kobakhidze said the President’s comments were “not serious” while adding that it was “very serious provocation and speculation”, reported.

According to GD MP Kvijinadze, Zurabishvili’s statements “are the statements of the leader of the radical opposition, whose goal is to make the government look bad and the situation in the country to be bad”.

Reactions from the West:

On May 31, RFE/RL correspondent Reid Standish quoted a NATO official on condition of anonymity: “It’s well known that China has long sought influence in major overseas infrastructure projects. The Black Sea remains an area of strategic importance to NATO”.

US State Department speaker told RFE/RL that the US “respects countries’ sovereign decisions regarding who they want to engage or do business with,” but noted that when doing business with Chinese entities “it’s important to [exercise] due diligence, understand the potential impacts on critical infrastructure and sovereignty, and ensure the economic relationship is fair, transparent, and benefits Georgia.”

On June 6, the Lithuanian Ambassador Andrius Kalindra was asked by the Interpressnews journalist about Georgia’s foreign policy, China’s involvement in the Anaklia project and whether he shared the assessment that Georgia’s main foreign partners, Washington and Brussels, were being replaced by Beijing. He answered that in Lithuania they had the so-called “Law on Investment Strategy”, which restricted the entry of non-EU, non-NATO, and non-OECD countries into strategic sectors of the Lithuanian economy: “This includes port infrastructure, energy, telecommunications, banking and other strategic sectors. Therefore, we do not have such dilemmas in our land”. He also added that once, a Chinese company showed interest in Lithuanian seaport Klaipeda but after discussion, they had concluded that the port should only be associated with countries and companies originating from the Euro-Atlantic area.

Comments on sanctions:

On May 31, the Ministry of Economy of Georgia responded to “the information spread by the media and opposition political parties”: “First of all, we would like to clarify that neither international nor US sanctions apply to the China-Singaporean consortium. The mentioned campaign is fully politicized and aims to deliberately hinder the implementation of the Anaklia port project”. However, “for more clarity”, the Ministry also noted that in 2020, “the US Department of Commerce included CCCC and several of its subsidiaries in the so-called Entity List… Accordingly, the inclusion of the above-mentioned companies in the respective lists means only restrictions on the implementation of specific transactions and not their sanctions – the restrictions do not constitute sanctions blocking the assets of the companies and do not limit any financial transactions with CCCC and its companies if the said transaction does not include exports, re-exports and the above-mentioned transfers. Nor does it restrict others from purchasing any services or goods from CCCC and its affiliates”. On June 1, the Ministry once again reiterated its position.

  • According to the Chinese Ambassador in Georgia Zhou Qian, “there are no sanctions [imposed] against this group,” 1TV reported. Then he accused critics: “If you look at the disinformation about the Chinese company that is being spread by Taiwan and the US-funded so-called think tanks, you will see why such disinformation is being spread. If you remember the first tender related to Anaklia port a few years ago and what happened then, you will understand why such disinformation is still being spread”.

Moreover, the Chinese Ambassador believes that the Anaklia port project will be a turning point in the Georgia-China partnership within the framework of the BRI and the Middle Corridor.

  • On June 1, the Press Speaker of the US State Department told Accent that “the Chinese company CCCC (China Communications Construction Company Limited) “is involved in military and intelligence-research activities sanctioned by the US government, as well as in the development of the production of weapons and military equipment” which is why the US Treasury Department included it in the so-called “Entity List” in 2021.

“Improving the infrastructure connecting Georgia to global markets and strengthening the country’s independence is good, but this company has no experience in either,” the Speaker added.

On June 3, the Myth Detector report noted that “the statement of the Ministry of Economy of Georgia is manipulative because it claims that despite being included in the so-called Entity List, the company China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC), which is part of the winning consortium in the tender announced for the construction of Anaklia deepwater port, is not sanctioned. In fact, the company is on the consolidated sanctions list of the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control due to the restrictions imposed”.

China Communications Construction Company Limited can be searched on the US’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanction’s list. China Communications Construction Company Limited is also on the Office of Foreign Assets Control Non-SDN Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies List. The US Department of Treasury includes China Communications Construction Company Limited in OFAC’s Non-SDN Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies List as well. The US Department of Defence includes China Communications Construction Company Limited in the list of “Chinese military companies” operating directly or indirectly in the United States “in accordance with the statutory requirement of Section 1260H of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021”. In 2021, US President Joe Biden issued an executive order on addressing the threat from securities investments that finance certain companies of the People’s Republic of China and China Communications Construction Company Limited is on the list. According to the US Embassy publication in 2020, former US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said that “CCCC and its subsidiaries have engaged in corruption, predatory financing, environmental destruction and other abuses across the world” and “the PRC must not be allowed to use CCCC and other state-owned enterprises as weapons to impose an expansionist agenda.”


China once again abstained from voting on Georgia’s UN resolution

On June 4, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution reiterating the right of return of all displaced persons and refugees to Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia by a vote of 103 in favor, nine against and 52 abstentions. China abstained.

In the past years, China had always abstained with one exception in 2022 when it voted against the resolution.

  • “I thank China for maintaining its position,” the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Kobakhidze said on June 5.

According to 1TV, when asked by a journalist why China did not support the UN resolution Kobakhidze said that the UN resolution was not about the recognition of sovereignty and occupied territories. “I understand that you are upset, but China’s official position is that China recognizes the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia,” Kobakhidze reportedly addressed TV Pirveli’s journalist.

  • On June 5, the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament Shalva Papuashvili said that Georgia and China had a strategic partnership and in both bilateral and multilateral formats they “have repeatedly confirmed to each other the territorial integrity”, adding that in this regard they had “closely agreed positions”.

“As for positions in international organizations, both China and Georgia form positions based on their agenda regarding individual decisions. China maintains the position it has had for years of abstaining on this resolution, as do several other long-time friends and partner countries of ours. This is tantamount to support for us in this situation,” he said.

While talking positively about China’s position on Georgia’s territorial integrity, he noted “how China itself looks at the territorial integrity of its own country” as one of the reasons for China’s stance while addressing the journalists: “Therefore, when you ask some question marks here, you cannot understand what China’s foreign policy is about territorial integrity”.

It is noteworthy that in 2022, the so-called then-“Minister of Foreign Affairs” of Russian-occupied Georgia’s Abkhazia region Inal Ardzinba thanked the countries that opposed Georgia’s resolution in the UN, which also included China, while adding that together with these countries they would continue “to move along the path of building a multipolar and fair world”.


Chinese companies’ interest in occupied regions of Georgia?

On June 8, the so-called Prime Minister of the Russian-occupied Georgia’s Tskhinvali region, Konstantin Jusoev, said that in May “two delegations” from China had visited the occupied region.

“One delegation is interested in the Kvaisi lead-zinc deposit, the second came with a proposal to open a Chinese car assembly factory in South Ossetia,” he told Russia’s state-run Tass.

He noted that they had not yet determined the brand, but their “delegation” was going to visit China in October and added that more detailed negotiation would continue: “However I want to note that the implementation of any joint projects will be carried out only after assessing the economic feasibility and efficiency of the projects proposed to South Ossetia”.

  • On June 12, Georgia’s media wrote that attempts to reach the Chinese Embassy in Georgia for a comment on this issue had been unsuccessful so far and they had not yet received a response from the Georgian MFA either.
  • On June 10, Mtavari quoted Georgian Dream party MP Beka Davituliani’s response to this news: “If some company went there and wanted to sort out some business scheme, Georgia has legislation on this, and this company is required to respond to this according to this legislation. One company’s desire for a possible business deal in Tskhinvali is a trifle compared to the strategic partnership between the two countries. Therefore, both China and Georgia are eager to deepen this strategic partnership and will not question it because of some company”.

On May 16, Russia’s occupied Tskhinvali region’s so-called government reported that Konstantin Jusoev met with the President of the Chinese company “Fujian Tianrun Yongshun Supply Chain” Wu Keguang who reportedly went there by agreement with the head of the Stroiprogres group of companies Albert Jusoev. According to Rondeli Foundation’s Kremlin Roadmap, Albert Jusoev is a Russian businessman originating from the Tskhinvali region, the President of Stroiprogres. Reportedly, “​​the Trade Representative of the Republic of South Ossetia in the Russian Federation” Taimuraz Goginov also attended the meeting. They discussed the potential for cooperation in area, such as tourism, mining industry, and mostly discussed the automotive industry issues.

On April 27, occupied Tskhinvali region’s so-called state media reported that “Vice President Wu Yinghui of the Chinese investment corporation Sabrina” visited occupied Tskhinvali. “I wish us fruitful cooperation and friendship between China and South Ossetia,” the representative reportedly said. According to the Voice of America’s report, the representative says that she went there with their “Russian partners”. According to Konstantin Jusoev, they showed “the Chinese colleagues” the Kvaisi deposit and they collected samples.

Also, on March 12, Ardzinba and Ge Zhili – “China expert” – held a meeting. They reportedly “discussed the prospects for establishing cultural and humanitarian cooperation between the Republic of Abkhazia and China”. On June 10, the occupied Abkhazia region’s so-called Ministry of Justice reported that the so-called Minister of Justice Anri Bartsis met with Ge Zhili reportedly discussing ” aspects of Abkhaz-Chinese business interaction on issues of participation of legal entities”.

According to the so-called Ministry of occupied Abkhazia region, Ge Zhili is “Honorary Consul in the People’s Republic of China”. In the past, he often appeared at similar meetings with occupied Abkhazia’s so-called representatives. Regarding the title of “Honorary Consul in the People’s Republic of China”, in 2019 the Georgian side “emphasized” that such a position “does not officially exist” and “it does not have any support from the Chinese state”.


Georgia-China visa-free regime and increased flight frequency

On May 28, the Bilateral Visa Exemption Agreement between Georgia and China took effect.

The Chinese Ambassador in Georgia Zhou Qian together with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Alexander Khvtisiashvili and the Deputy Minister of Economy of Georgia Mariam Kvrivishvili attended the launching ceremony of the first direct flight to China.


Zhou Qian interviewed by 1TV, Imedi, Rustavi 2 and Posttv. Source: The Embassy of China in Georgia

According to Zhou Qian, in the first season this year, Chinese tourist flow to Georgia had increased by 290% compared with last year. The Ambassador believes the mutual contact among the business circle, science and technology, academic circles and culture, and people-to-people will increase very fast, 1TV reported on May 30.

On May 28, the Mayor of Tbilisi Kakha Kaladze stated the decision was “very important”.  “In general, China’s economy is one of the strongest economies in the world, the strongest country… Steps will be taken from our side to further strengthen these relations,” Kaladze added.

  • On May 31, 1TV reported that China Southern Airlines increased the frequency of direct Urumqi-Tbilisi-Urumqi flights from four to seven per week.

“Our next task is to increase the flight area from other cities gradually. And foremost, to connect the capital cities,” the Director of the Union of Georgian Airports Irakli Karkashadze said.

  • Meanwhile, the ITB China 2024 travel fair was held at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center and reportedly, highlights of this year’s exhibition included thirteen new destinations including Georgia, CGTN reported on May 28. The Head of the Tourism Department in Batumi, Georgia Tinatin Zoidze attended the event.


Chinese Ambassador and Chairman of the Supreme Court of Georgia discuss issues of future cooperation development

On June 13, the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Georgia Nino Kadagidze met with the Ambassador of China to Georgia Zhou Qian.

According to the Supreme Court of Georgia, at the introductory meeting, the two sides discussed the justice systems of Georgia and China and issues of future cooperation development. Reportedly, the political attaché Li Feng also attended the meeting.


Trade and investment

  • On May 20, Geostat reported that in January-April 2024, compared to the same period last year, Georgia’s exports to China decreased by 51.2% – China was Georgia’s seventh-biggest trading partner by exports ($78.8 million), which was 4.5% of total exports.

In January-April 2024, China was the third-biggest trading partner of Georgia – the turnover between the two countries amounted to $497.5 million (7.6 % of Georgia’s total trade).

China was Georgia’s fourth-biggest import partner with $418.7 million (8.7% of total imports). Compared to the same period last year, that was a 25.5% growth.

  • In January-May 2024, 105 new Chinese companies were registered in Georgia, of which 70 objects are limited liability companies, 31 are individual entrepreneurs, three are branches of foreign enterprises, and one is non-entrepreneurial legal entity, based on the information from Geostat, BPN reported on June 13.

The report also published the list of the top 10 Chinese companies by turnover:

  • Guizhou Highway Engineering Group Co
  • JSC Hualing International Special Economic Zone
  • JSC Basis Bank
  • Sinohydro LLC Corporation branch in Georgia
  • Permanent Branch of China Railway 23rd Bureau Group Ltd.
  • China Railway Tunnel Group Co., Ltd., branch in Georgia
  • Hunan Roads and Bridges Construction Group LLC, a branch of the company in Georgia
  • China Geo-Engineering Corporation
  • Georgia branch of China Road and Bridge Corporation
  • Georgian branch of Construction Engineering Corporation of China State Ltd

According to BPN, the Georgian branch of the Construction Engineering Corporation of China State Ltd was among the 10 companies where the most investments were made in the 1st quarter of this year.

The volume of foreign direct investments in Georgia in the first quarter of 2024 amounted to $201.4 million, of which $13.9 million came from China (the seventh biggest investor in Georgia).

Meanwhile, Turkey, Czechia, the US, the Netherlands, the Marshall Islands and Japan were in the Top six.


Middle Corridor

For the first time in the history of the Middle Corridor, an organized pilot car transport from China to Georgia was carried out – cars loaded in the Chinese city of Urumqi entered Georgia via Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea and Azerbaijan on May 26, Geoecohub reported.

According to the Georgian Deputy Minister of Economy Guram Guramishvili, in the future it might be possible to carry out road transport from China to Europe via the Middle Corridor route. Regarding this issue, Guramishvili met the International Automobile Officer of the Ministry of Transport of China Liu Tang.