|ავტორი: Medea Ivaniadze|
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 177th out of 180 countries)
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18.10.2021 – 24.10.2021
Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister: Zangezur corridor will further enhance strategic importance of the BRI
Photo from the BRI conference. Source: Azernews
At the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Energy Ministerial Conference in Qingdao, China, Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov said in a video speech that the new Zangezur corridor (through south Armenia) will further enhance the strategic importance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the future, Azernews reported on October 20.
The Minister emphasized that Azerbaijan was an important partner in the development of energy cooperation in this corridor.
“Its effective position in the structure of global energy consumption, being one of the countries with the largest installed capacity in the renewable energy sector in the world, and its target for zero carbon emissions by 2060, ensures that the Belt and Road [Initiative] will become an effective cooperation platform on green energy with China’s initiative,” Shahbazov said.
The Minister stated: “The upcoming auctions for renewable energy projects, as well as wind power potential of 157 GW in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea, will create new opportunities for investors, including for sustainable energy cooperation with China”.
Shahbazov also said that, located on the ancient Silk Road, Azerbaijan had been playing the role of an important bridge between China and Europe through the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, the Baku International Sea Trade Port, the International North-South Transport Corridor and the Trans-Caspian transit corridor.
DFRLab publishes report – “Georgian-language website’s efforts to promote Chinese interests amplified on Facebook”
On October 21, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) published a report entitled “Georgian-language website’s efforts to promote Chinese interests amplified on Facebook”.
A Research Assistant at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab Eto Buziashvili wrote that there is a network of Facebook pages and groups that promotes a Georgian-language website publishing articles “in support of China and critical of the United States, an example of how China’s interests are increasingly being promulgated in Georgia”.
The author argues that there is no current evidence that the website or the mentioned Facebook campaign is directly connected to the Chinese government, but according to Buziashvili, “their content aligns with the Chinese Communist Party’s newly invigorated approach to reputation building online, part of a strategy it refers to as ’discourse power.’”
A Georgian NGO publishes report: “Pandora’s Box opened: Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Connections with the Chinese Companies”.
In October, a non-governmental organization in Georgia, Civic Initiative for Democratic and Euro-Atlantic Choice (Civic IDEA), published a report entitled “Pandora’s box opened: Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Connections with the Chinese Companies”.
Civic Idea’s report tells “how the judicial and the executive branches of government handed over one of the most important strategic assets of Georgia – the Poti Free Industrial Zone, to the bankrupt Chinese company CEFC China Energy. The report also describes how Poti FIZ was brought under the total control of Bidzina Ivanishvili and Ivane Chkhartishvili after the bankruptcy of the Chinese CEFC. “The court decision, which cannot withstand any criticism, serves the sole purpose of retaining complete control of the former prime minister on Poti FIZ and preventing the return of property to the state”.
According to the organization, in the past it had published a study named “Chkhartishvili Leads in China’s ’Closed Business Championship’”, where according to their research, the interests of CEFC China Energy, a company “exposed in many criminal cases in different countries”, were pursued by former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and former Deputy Prime Minister Ivane Chkhartishvili. Civic Idea wrote that their findings over the years were “fully corroborated” by the Pandora documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in September 2021, “portraying the links” between Ivanishvili and Brightstone Finance Limited registered in the Virgin Islands.
In January-September 2021, China was Georgia’s third-largest trading partner
According to Geostat January-September 2021 data, China remained Georgia’s third-largest trading partner. The turnover between the two counties amounted to $ 1 078.2 million (10.8% of the total turnover), Geostat reported on October 19.
During January-September 2021, China was Georgia’s biggest trading partner by exports ($478.2 million) – 16% of Georgia’s total exports. That was a growth of 34.2% compared to the same period of 2020. The top export item to China was copper ores and concentrates, which was 82.7% of Georgia’s total exports to China ($395.7 million).
China was also Georgia’s third-largest partner by import with $599.9 million (8.5% of total imports). Compared to the same period of 2020, that was a growth of 17.6%.
Hong-Kong and China are top importers of computing machines to Georgia
In January-September 2021, top importers of computing machines to Georgia were Hong Kong ($52.7 million) and China ($17.7 million), Bm.ge reported on October 22. During this period, in total, Georgia purchased $110.9 million worth of computing machines. Compared to the same period of 2020, this is a growth of 142%.
The Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan held a cultural event
Photo from the event. Source: Azertac
On October 18, the Confucius Institute at the Azerbaijan University of Languages celebrated the traditional Chinese Double Ninth Festival, Azertac reported.
The founder of the Belt and Road Georgian Business House delivered a speech at the 130th Canton Fair
Bekar Mikaberidze at Canton Fair. Source: The Belt and Road Georgian Business House
The founder of the Belt and Road Georgian Business House Bekar Mikaberidze delivered a speech at the 130th Canton Fair.
He recommended novice foreign businessmen working in China that they needed to get deeply acquainted with Chinese culture and traditions, “learn the ethics of doing business with the Chinese, and considering these important components China would enable them to move forward and develop”.
Georgian Embassy hosted a cultural event in Beijing
Photo from the event. Source: The Embassy of Georgian in China
On October 23, the Embassy of Georgia in China hosted an event “Georgia – Cradle of Wine” at the Beijing Innovation Center. Officials from various Chinese government agencies, representatives of diplomatic missions in Beijing and others attended the event.
Young Ambassador of Georgia to China made a presentation about Georgia to a Chinese company
On October 18, the Young Ambassador of Georgia to the People’s Republic of China Gvantsa Mdivani gave an online presentation about Georgia to the employees of the “worldwide famous” Chinese company PING AN INSURANCE.
The Young Ambassador spoke about Georgia’s tourist attractions, cuisine, Georgian wine, Georgian alphabet, Georgia’s investment environment and Georgia-China relations.
“Besides, the Young Ambassador discussed the advantages of the Belt and Road and the free trade agreement between Georgia and China,” the report said.
25.10.2021 – 31.10.2021
The Chinese Ambassador believes that issues will be resolved on China’s participation in the North-South corridor
About China’s participation in the North-South transport corridor, the Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong said that there were issues that he believed would be resolved with the help of diplomatic ties at the level of the foreign ministries of the two countries, News.am reported on October 28.
“For any state, the construction of roads is important from the point of view of development… This road, if built, will have a serious impact on the region. We [China] are already participating, holding talks. We want to create a very good, safe environment so that we can find ways of development in the future,” the Chinese ambassador added.
According to the report, the North-South transport corridor project will connect Central Asia, India and Iran with Georgia, Russia and Europe via Armenia – from the country’s north to south.
The Chinese Ambassador says that China would welcome involvement of Georgia in Xi Jinping’s proposed new Global Development Initiative
On October 28, the Facebook page of the Chinese Embassy in Tbilisi shared an interview of the Chinese Ambassador in Georgia Guo Min for the Georgian newspaper Rezonansi.
The Ambassador talked about CCP’s Chairman Xi Jinping’s speech at the 76th session of the UN’s General Assembly and discussed his new Global Development Initiative, proposed at the Assembly. Li Yan said that they would welcome the involvement of different countries in the initiative including Georgia “for better linking of development strategies, to promote cooperation in key areas, to create a better perspective for global development”.
Li Yan also noted Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili addressing at the UN Assembly:
“He said that through reforms Georgia’s government will achieve sustainable development of the country and Georgia will help implement the 2030 agenda by formulating its 2030 vision – the abovementioned corresponds to China’s views”.
Li Yan also discussed the planned Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and expressed hope that more Georgian athletes would be able to participate in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
At the end of the interview, the Chinese Ambassador discussed China-Georgia Covid-19 cooperation and China’s assistance. Li Yan also noted Irakli Garibashvili’s gratitude at the UN Assembly to China and Chinese vaccine producer companies.
The income of Georgian government contractor Chinese companies in Georgia
On October 27, Bm.ge reported information about the income of Georgian government contractor Chinese companies in Georgia based on the companies’ financial information.
According to Bm.ge, information about China Road and Bridge Corporation which builds Rikoti section worth of 901 million GEL is the following:
The company’s assets are 295 million GEL.
According to the report, China Road and Bridge Corporation’s Georgia Branch implements one of the largest projects in terms of cost (projects worth 901 million GEL).
The company won the tender announced by the Roads Department in 2018. According to the contract, the company must complete the construction of the Ubisa-Shorapani section of Georgia’s E60 East-West expressway by December 2021. The project is financed by a loan taken by Georgia from the EIB (The European Investment Bank). Bm.ge wrote that 18 tunnels will be completed on the 13 km section of Ubisa-Shorapani, its lengths range from 300 meters to 1600 meters, and also 27 bridges, 13 of which are located in the direction of Tbilisi-Argveta, and 14 – in the direction of Argveta-Tbilisi.
The company’s management report says that due to the extension of the road design project, its construction is likely to be completed in 2022.
Other companies are the following:
Sinohydro Corporation Branch in Georgia
The assets of Sinohydro are 150 million GEL.
The branch of the Chinese state corporation Sinohydro was established in Georgia in 2010. The corporation is one of the largest contractors of the Georgian Government, and is engaged in the construction of the highways in Georgia.
Among the projects of Sinohydro are the 12.4 km section of the Kobuleti bypass road; Construction of the first and third sections of the Tbilisi-Rustavi road; High-speed highway construction, Zemo Osiauri-Chumateleti 5.8 km section (part of the East-West E60 highway); Construction of 19.5 km Samtredia-Grigoleti section (section of the East-West E60 highway).
23rd China Railway Bureau Group
The assets of the company’s branch are 194 million GEL.
The Permanent Branch of the 23rd China Railway Group was opened in Georgia in 2010. It is owned by China Railway Construction Corporation.
The company is involved in the implementation of several large projects in Georgia: Modernization project of 43 911 kilometers of the railway, which costs $288 million; Construction of Samtredia-Grigoleti 4th lot section at the East-West E60 highway. The total length of the highway to be built by the project is 9.57 km, four ramps with a total length of 753 meters should also be built. Its value is 113 million GEL; Construction of the Kvesheti-Kobi road section (part of the North-South Road Corridor), its cost is 316.4 million GEL. The company won the contract in 2019.
China Railway Tunnel Group
China Railway Tunnel Group Co. builds the 9 km Kvesheti-Kobi tunnel (part of the North-South Road Corridor). According to the report, the volume of the contract with the company is 909 million GEL.
Azerbaijan Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Minister of Commerce of China chaired the Azerbaijan-China Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation
Photo from the meeting. Source: Txt report/APA
The 8th meeting of the Azerbaijan-China Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation was held in a video conference format, chaired by Azerbaijan Deputy Prime Minister and Co-Chair of the Commission Shahin Mustafayev and Deputy Minister of Commerce of China, China’s International Trade Representative at the ministerial level Yu Jianhua, Txt Report wrote on October 27.
Mustafayev called on Chinese companies and investment funds to invest in the industrial parks in the country, Xinhua reported. He praised the cooperation between the two countries in transport and transit sectors and noted that the Baku International Sea Trade Port, Alat Free Economic Zone and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway contributed considerably to this cooperation.
According to the Chinese media report, the Deputy Prime Minister hailed the importance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. He expressed Azerbaijan’s interest “in benefiting from China’s rich experience in digital development and information and communications sectors”.
Txt report wrote that two sides expressed satisfaction with the cooperation in the field of digital transformation and information and communication technologies. Mustafayev stressed the activities of Huawei in Azerbaijan and expressed satisfaction with the company’s application “of the most advanced technologies in the liberated territories”. In April 2021, Chief Executive Officer of Huawei Azerbaijan Xu Hui told Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev that Huawei would apply “its most advanced digital technologies in the areas to be reconstructed in the Karabakh region”, and expressed readiness to present the most advanced technologies in Karabakh.
Mustafayev also highlighted opportunities for the export of Azerbaijani non-oil products to China. He noted Azerbaijan-China cooperation since the outbreak of Covid-19 and thanked the Chinese government and people for support.
Yu Jianhua said China considered Azerbaijan an important partner in terms of the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Yu expressed the hope that both countries would continue efforts to ensure sustainable development of cooperation in the fields of transport and logistics. The Vice Minister also stressed the importance of studying the potential of bilateral investment cooperation.
He proposed the establishment of working groups on cooperation in the field of e-commerce and investment between the two countries and the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of infrastructure.
According to the report, it was noted that the Chinese side was ready to promote the participation of Chinese enterprises in projects in Azerbaijan covering wind and other renewable energy, digital development in “smart” cities, information and communication technologies and communications, industrial parks and other areas.
The Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Guo Min, and the Azerbaijan Ambassador to China Akram Zeynalli also attended the meeting.
Huawei hosted a program with Armenian universities
On October 11-18, Huawei Armenia hosted its 1st Seeds for the Future Program, Armenpress reported on October 26.
According to Armenpress, in collaboration with Yerevan State University, Yerevan National Polytechnics University and the American University of Armenia in the selection process, 20 students were selected who had the opportunity to learn about high technologies including 5G, cloud, AI.
The Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong, CEOs of the local Telecommunication Operators: MTS Armenia Ralph Yirikian and General Manager of Huawei Technologies Armenia Chen Liang addressed the participants.
The Ambassador said that Huawei was one of the most powerful telecommunications companies in China and the world and has made “a great contribution to the rapid development of China’s digital economy”.
Yirikian noted that the project had great importance for supporting Armenia’s digital development.
Chen Liang said that Huawei has actively undertaken social responsibilities and was committed to cultivating more ICT talent for Armenia:
“The Seeds for the Future program is a useful attempt by Huawei to enhance the future development of bilateral relations and make more benefit to the people from both countries. It also serves as a microcosm for Chinese companies in Armenia to fulfill the social responsibilities and promote cultural exchanges effectively.”
China, Armenia became the founding members of cultural heritage alliance launched in Beijing
On October 27, the Asian Alliance for Cultural Heritage Conservation was launched in Beijing, Chinese state media reported.
China Daily wrote that the alliance was launched at the opening ceremony of the inaugural Asian Dialogue for Cultural Heritage Conservation, “which echoes President Xi Jinping’s proposal for the Asian Initiative for Cultural Heritage Conservation during his keynote speech at the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing in May 2019”.
China, Armenia, Cambodia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen became the founding members of the alliance.
The news report noted that more than 300 government officials, diplomats, scholars, museum administrators and others from 35 countries across the region and five international organizations attended the two-day online conference.
Azerbaijan presented its products at the exhibition in Tianjin, China
Photo from the exhibition. Source: Azernews.
Azerbaijan presented its products at the 2021 Haihe International Consumption Summit & Carnival exhibition in Tianjin, China, Azernews wrote on October 28.
According to the report, Azerbaijani food and agricultural products were presented at the event organized by China’s biggest e-commerce platform JD.com: “Azerbaijan’s online trading house will soon begin operations on the JD.com platform”.
Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Economy reported that the participants in the international exhibition expressed great interest in Azerbaijani products.
Confucius Classroom was opened at the Russian-Armenian University
The Rector of the Russian-Armenian University Armen Darbinyan and Chinese Ambassador Fan Yong. Source: Russian-Armenian University
On October 28, Confucius Classroom was opened at the Russian-Armenian University, News.am reported. The Chinese Ambassador to Armenia attended the opening ceremony.
The Chinese Ambassador said this would give a new signal to the development of the longtime relations between Armenia and China.
According to the report, the Russian-Armenian University is the only university in Armenia that will have a Confucius Classroom. The classroom opening was possible through close cooperation with Dalian University in China.
The Chinese Ambassador says if necessary, China will donate vaccines to Armenia
The Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong said that, if necessary, an agreement would be reached between the governments of China and Armenia which would enable donation of the Chinese coronavirus vaccines, News.am reported on October 28.
“If such a need arises, the Chinese people are naturally ready to assist the Armenian people,” the Ambassador said.
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation supported the reconstruction of a sports ground in China
Photo of the sports ground. Source: Azertac
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation supported the reconstruction of the sports ground “Azerbaijan-China friendship stadium” for the primary school N2 in Malipo District, China’s Yunnan Province.
According to Azertac’s October 29 report, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has made a number of contributions to support humanitarian projects in China. The report said that the Foundation is also actively participating in the “Love knows no borders” traditional charity fair organized in Beijing to support the poverty alleviation program in China’s rural areas.
Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan held another cultural event
The event entitled “Qipao -Traditional Chinese dress” was held at the Confucius Institute at the Azerbaijan University Languages, Azertac reported on October 30.