|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 Communist Party of China (according to the World Press Freedom Index China is nearly at the bottom of the list and ranks 177th out of 180 countries)
16.11.2020 – 22.11.2020
New Armenian Foreign Minister: Developing relations with China is one of the priorities of Armenian diplomacy
On November 19, the new Ambassador to Armenia, Fan Yong, presented his credentials to the recently appointed Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan.
“Ambassador Fan first extended the congratulations and greetings from State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the new Foreign Minister, saying that China and Armenia are trustworthy, good partners to each other and good friends” – the statement published on the website of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The Foreign Minister said that developing relations with China was one of the priority directions of Armenian diplomacy, that the Armenian side firmly pursued One China Policy, and was willing to continue to actively participate in the construction of the “Belt and Road”, promote friendly relations between Armenia and China, expand bilateral economic, trade and cultural cooperation and intensify people-to-people exchanges.
The Foreign Minister also said that Armenian side was willing to learn from China’s experience of building a moderately prosperous society and battling against poverty.
During the discussion of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, China’s newly appointed Ambassador stated that China’s official position remained unchanged, that is, the final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be an exclusively peaceful settlement within the scope of the Co-chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Sarkissian and new Chinese Ambassador discussed importance of the expansion of cooperation
Fan Yong and Armen Sarkissian. Source: News.am
On November 20, newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of China to Armenia Fan Yong presented his credentials to President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian.
Sarkissian congratulated the Ambassador on assuming office in Armenia, wished him success and expressed confidence that the newly appointed Ambassador would make great contributions to expand the mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries.
Ambassador Fan Yong delivered “warm greetings and kind wishes” of General Secretary of CPC, Xi Jinping.
Sarkissian and the Ambassador exchanged views on the agenda of cooperation between the two countries and attached importance to the expansion of cooperation in several sectors, including advanced technologies, food safety and others.
President Sarkissian offered to consider the possibility of direct air communication from China to Armenia and transit flights to the US and Europe via Armenia.
China is Georgia’s top trading partner by exports
According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, in January-October 2020, China was Georgia’s third-largest trading partner, Georgian news outlet reported on November 19. During this same period, China was Georgia’s top trading partner by exports – $418.9 million. China was the third-largest trading partner by imports ($572.9 million).
Chinese Foreign Minister: We applaud the Nagorno-Karabakh deal agreed with Russia’s active mediation
On November 20, China’s Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi commented on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.
“With Russia’s active mediation, the two sides agreed to a new ceasefire on 10 November. China welcomes and applauds the agreement. We hope the relevant parties will honor the agreement, return to the track of political negotiations as early as possible, resolve their differences and disputes by peaceful means, and address their issues through dialogue and consultation. We will work with the international community and continue to play a constructive role for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue”. – Wang Yi said in an interview.
23.11.2020 – 29.11.2020
Founder of the Fund for Regional Development of Chinese-Armenian Relations joins the forum held in China
On November 23, the Silk Road International Talent Forum was held in Beijing. According to Chinanews, experts, scholars and business leaders from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Pakistan, Armenia, Ukraine, Cambodia and other countries gathered at the online event to discuss how to strengthen the Belt and Road Initiative countries’ human resources cooperation, by “igniting the core engine of talents and help high-quality joint building of the Belt and Road Initiative”.
Sergey Avanesov, the founder of the Fund for Regional Development of Chinese-Armenian Relations, suggested that based on the „intellectual achievements“ of the Silk Road International Talent Forum, the compilation of Silk Road International Talent Forum report should be published every year. He also suggested establishing a 100 Silk Road Youth Elite Talent training program to provide internships, personal scholarships for outstanding talents, and “jointly nurture experts needed for the joint building of the Belt and Road Initiative”.
The Forum was initiated by the Silk Road International Talent Alliance and co-sponsored by the Eurasian Economic Cooperation Organization and CIIC International Business Development Co., Ltd.
The Fund for Regional Development of Chinese-Armenian Relations was established to “strengthen Chinese-Armenian relations within the framework of Belt and Road initiative. According to the Fund’s website, its program is coordinated and supported by the Government of the Republic of Armenia, Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia, as well as the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in China”.
Georgian carrier will launch regular cargo flights from China to Europe
Geo Sky will launch regular cargo flights in the winter of 2020-2021, from December 1 to March 27, from China to Europe, Trend reported on November 26.
Cargo flights are to be carried out by Boeing B747-200 type aircraft three times a week on the route of Tbilisi-Changzhou-Tbilisi and Tbilisi-Frankfurt-Tbilisi. The air company Geo Sky is the first Georgian carrier to launch regular cargo flights.
Confucius Institute in Georgia held a competition for school students
Confucius Institute at the Free University of Tbilisi organized an essay contest for school students “China in my eyes”. According to the statement shared by Confucius Institute at the Free University of Tbilisi on November 27, participants demonstrated their knowledge of Chinese language and about China.
Confucius Institute in Georgia held Chinese language speaking competition
On November 27, Confucius Institute at Free University of Tbilisi held a Chinese language speaking competition for students. According to the statement, up to 20 participants showed a high level of Chinese language skills.
30.11.2020 – 6.12.2020
Polish Ambassador to Georgia: EU Ambassadors are surprised because Georgia cooperates with China using EU money
The Ambassador of Poland to Georgia, Mariusz Maszkiewicz is surprised by the invitation of Chinese companies by the Georgian authorities to construct roads and tunnels.
The Ambassador said that companies from Poland and some of the other European states could do this job better – “I wonder why Georgia is inviting Chinese companies to build roads here. We can build tunnels that are better than the Chinese”.
He rejected the idea that price might be the reason and said that the problem is much more complicated.
“Chinese companies offer the lowest price and the most attractive terms. They build with their method, I’m not to say that what is Chinese is bad. But, is the price a better evaluation criterion? Most of the funds come from the European Union, specifically from the European Investment Bank that Georgia uses. We, the club of EU Ambassadors to Georgia, were a little surprised when we found out that with European Union funds, Georgia decided to cooperate with China. Why? We have very good companies in Austria, in Germany, in Poland. We can offer high quality at a reliable price”, said the Ambassador in an interview on December 1.
Chinese Ambassador to Armenia published an article about China-Armenia relations
On December 4, the newly appointed Chinese Ambassador to Armenia, Fan Yong published an article in the Armenian News Agency – “Straightening Friendship, Deepening Cooperation, and Creating a New Aspect of China-Armenia Friendly Cooperative Relations”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China wrote that as Fan said, the new development concept and other policies that China was going to implement would provide more marketplaces and opportunities for countries in the world, including Armenia.
Fan said that although the Covid-19 had had a certain impact on the cooperation between China and Armenia, he believed that after the pandemic the cooperation between the two countries in various fields would burst strongly and with greater vitality.
According to the Ministry, China is willing to work with Armenia to gradually resume normal personnel exchanges between the two countries after the pandemic is over – “…to promote cooperation between the two parties in areas such as innovation and development, information technology, healthcare, and poverty eradication. Achievements of friendly cooperation between China and Armenia will benefit the two countries”.
Ambassador of Georgia to China: I can see the power of Beijing every day
On November 30, in an interview with the World Tourism Cities Federation, Georgian Ambassador to China Archil Kalandia spoke about the Georgia-China relationship.
Ambassador Kalandia, who has lived in Beijing for more than 10 years, describes the Chinese capital as “powerful”: “Beijing is the political center of China where historical events have taken place. The city is developing very rapidly. It is an amazing place and I can see the power of this city every day”.
Talking about the relationship between the two countries he said: “We are two of the most ancient countries in the world. That is why mutual understanding is much easier for the two countries. As an ambassador, a long record of cultural and historical ties between the two countries makes my duty more meaningful and easier”.
Kalandia also stated that, due to the aforementioned advantages, Georgia is playing an important role in the Belt and Road Initiative.
He also discussed Georgian wine in China and said that in the post-pandemic era they were trying to increase the number of bottles of wine exported from Georgia into the Chinese market.
Azerbaijan University of Languages celebrates Chinese Dream Day
The Confucius Institute at the Azerbaijan University of Languages held an online seminar to celebrate Chinese Dream Day, on December 6, Azertac reported.
Rafiq Abbasov, the director of the Confucius Institute’s Azerbaijan branch, talked about the three main goals of the Chinese Dream – powerful and prosperous state, the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the happiness of the people.
Students from the University of Languages made a presentation about the formation and development history of the Chinese Dream concept and the conditions for its realization, as well as the expansion of trade relations in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan held a seminar about the influence of Chinese culture on the Karabakh carpet
The Confucius Institute at Azerbaijan Language University held an online student seminar titled “The Influence of Chinese Culture on the Development of the Karabakh Carpet Weaving Style”, Azertac reported on December 1.
According to Azerbaijani news outlet, at the online event Rafiq Abbasov, the director of the Confucius Institute’s Azerbaijan branch, talked about the “thousand-year history and origin of the Karabakh ’dragon’s descendants‘ carpet”. “Dragon’s descendants” is a term sometimes used in reference to the Chinese people. He emphasized that these carpets were famous for their unique artistic, craft features and ancient symbols.
7.12.2020 – 13.12.2020
Georgian Ambassador to China: This pandemic has further enhanced China’s global standing and international role
On December 7 Georgian Ambassador to China, Archil Kalandia delivered a lecture about “the challenges of the People’s Republic of China under Covid-19” at the China International Education College and discussed various topics about China and the China-Georgia relationship.
The Ambassador began by speaking about China as “a country of global importance”. He said that “its authority and capabilities are growing and making it especially important for us to get to know this country better”.
He started discussing “one of the main challenges China is facing today” and according to him this is that in many countries, “this virus is perceived as a Chinese virus. Obviously its origins start from the city of Wuhan, but it is very painfully perceived by the Chinese government and every Chinese citizen”.
When he discussed “China’s success in fighting the virus” he claimed that due to China’s past epidemic experience “a vertical that exists in the state of China works very effectively in all emergencies”.
“From the very first days as soon as it was publicly known about the existence of this virus, China made a truly unprecedented decision for that period – to impose a lockdown in the city of Wuhan”, he said of the lockdown in Wuhan that happened on January 23, 2020.
He claimed that the success of China lies in “the effective steps of governance, that were made without wasting time, and instantly in the few days as soon as the end of January when lockdown was imposed in Wuhan, so as many as half a billion citizens could get accurate information to what the country was dealing with”.
According to Archil Kalandia, “even though this global pandemic created some new clichés about China, believe me, the pandemic has further enhanced China’s global standing and international role in so many areas”.
Talking about “the elimination of poverty” in China, he said that “it is a fact” that socialism with Chinese characteristics gave the result that “not only is China the second-largest economy in the world, but the country has eliminated poverty”.
Kalandia also said that Georgian doctors and medical staff had direct online engagements with their Chinese counterparts, and claimed that the first step in “their success in managing this virus effectively was that they were getting Chinese experience”.
As he was discussing the “very big” market of China, “with great perspectives”, he said that it was not a politicized market despite the fact that many thought so because of the Communist rule.
Ambassador Kalandia said that the Chinese have a win-win cooperation – “if there is favorable cooperation, favorable negotiations on this or that issue, this is the main thing for China, and in this case, there is no politics. We must maximize our capabilities and diversify our products. China is a great opportunity”.
While talking about the first train carrying goods from Turkey to China, he said that in the future Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will more actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative and Georgia will not only benefit its security and economy, but its role as a transport, transit and trading hub in the region will increase.
It is noteworthy that George Matiashvili, the rector of Guram Tavartkiladze Tbilisi Teaching University who opened the online meeting, talked about the steps the university was taking in terms of the relationship with China and noted that they started working very actively in this direction. He said that China International Education Group became a co-founder of their university and the Chinese language is one of the foreign languages taught in various university programs.
“We have a promising plan that will be implemented relatively soon – a new specialty to be introduced at the university, and perhaps you are aware of the fact that Chinese language teaching in Georgia as a higher education program practically doesn’t exist… We want to be active in this direction”, he said. On October 30, Guram Tavartkiladze Tbilisi Teaching University and China International Education College signed a memorandum of understanding.
Former Georgian Dream MP: You must be blind if you cannot see how satisfied the Chinese are
On December 7, a former Member of Parliament (2012-2020) from Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party Otar Chrdileli shared his opinion about China in the social media.
He said there was no field in the world where China’s opinion was not taken into account. According to him, the majority of the population in China supports the Communist Party and Chairman Xi: “You are probably wondering what other choices they have. You are right, but you must be blind if you cannot see how satisfied the population is and especially the youth”.
Chrdileli said that if Chinese people could criticize their government there is no chance they would use this right when citizens feel the benefits of the economic situation.
“Interestingly, the median age of the population in China is 37 years, just like it is in America. Yet, unlike the 37-year-old American, his Chinese peers know nothing but constant economic growth… This country will never take a democratic approach, they do not know the meaning of any system other than today’s that allows economic prosperity in exchange for their personal freedom being within a framework”, Chrdileli said.
Chrdileli believes that “a very large part of the Chinese believe that America’s and the West’s problem lies in their democratic system of governance. China sees in democracy a direct threat to its economic prosperity”.
He also noted that for more than a year he has been sharing content about China on his Facebook account.
Finance Minister of Georgia responds to the comment by the Polish Ambassador: If the Chinese company made the best offer, why not?!
On December 7, Finance Minister of Georgia, Ivane Machavariani commented on the remarks by the Ambassador of Poland to Georgia, Mariusz Maszkiewicz, who said that EU Ambassadors were surprised because Georgia cooperates with China using EU money. Machavariani said that the tenders were conducted transparently and “there are no questions here”.
Speaking about important infrastructure projects funded by the donor money, he said that the process of how the tender should be conducted was very transparent and precise.
“Here is not only money from the European Union but also money of the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and all the major partners that fund these national projects. Tenders are conducted exactly according to the rules that are requested by donors. The company that made the best offer wins the tender”, the Minster said.
“If this company is Chinese, why not?!” – the Minister continued – “If a Polish company will be the best one, it will win the tender”.
Machavariani claimed that authorities were guided by the interests of their country and by standards that are fully in line with international organizations.
“Which country is the company from and so on – we are not guided by this. As far as I know, China is not subject to sanctions, like Iran. Chinese companies operate in Europe as well. We do not and will not hold tenders on political grounds – there are no question marks here”, the Minister said.
First China-bound freight train sets out on Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway
Source: Agenda / Anadolu Agency
The first train carrying goods from Turkey to China has begun operating on the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, a Georgian news outlet reported on December 7.
The train will pass through five countries on its way to China, where it is scheduled to arrive within 12 days, leaving Turkey by December 8 following the Ankara-Sivas-Kars route.
It will stop at the Akhalkalaki Station in Georgia and then travel across Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan before entering China and arriving in the city of Xi’an.
Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia: China is one of Armenia’s key partners
Fan Yong and Tigran Avinyan. Source: News.am
On December 11, Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia, Tigran Avinyan received the newly appointed Ambassador of China to Armenia, Fan Yong.
Avinyan stated that China is one of Armenia’s key partners, and Ambassador Yong said that he won’t spare efforts for further development and expansion of the cooperation.
As the Armenian news agency reported, the two sides discussed the programs for technical assistance to Armenia.
The two sides also stated that China is one of Armenia’s key trade partners, and the Deputy Prime Minister also attached the importance “to the engagement of direct investments from China and the implementation of mutually beneficial programs”.
During the meeting, the parties also talked about the possibility of resumption of discussions on the construction of a copper smelter through the use of state-of-the-art technologies in Armenia, as well as considered the operation of the Shanxi-Nairit Armenian-Chinese joint venture and expansion of its operation.
Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan: China is willing to continue to work with Azerbaijan
On December 9, in an interview with Azerbaijan news agencies, the Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Guo Min discussed the China-Azerbaijan relationship and different events that were recently held in China.
Talking about Chairman Xi Jinping’s participation in high-level meetings, she listed several topics Chairman Xi focused on – “an independent China that pursues a mutually beneficial, win-win opening strategy, a China that advocates the building of a community with a shared future for mankind…”
When she talked about China’s “14th Five-Year Plan” she said that China’s new development journey will also bring new opportunities for China-Azerbaijani cooperation.
“Azerbaijan actively participates in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative with practical actions, and uses its unique geographical advantages to become a regional hub”, said the Ambassador.
She also commented on the first export by train from Turkey to China and said that “this is another example of Azerbaijan showing its geographical advantages and its status as a regional transportation hub, another example of conscientiously participating in and promoting the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative to benefit the people of all countries”. Guo Min noted that China was happy about this.
“China is willing to continuously strengthen political mutual trust with Azerbaijan”, Guo Min said.
She also talked about the China International Import Expo and said that the Chinese side was glad that Azerbaijan has been participating in it for 3 years already.
Turnava: Logistical improvement is an opportunity to increase Georgian exports to China
The first train carrying goods from Turkey to China has begun operating on the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway. On December 9, Georgian Minister of Economy Natia Turnava commented on this event, calling it as a historic one.
“The cargo from Turkey to China will be delivered for the first time and, also for the first time, cargo will be transported to China through Georgia”. – said Georgian Economy Minister Natia Turnava.
She noted that this was very important not only for the further development of Georgia’s transit function, but also for the easier export of Georgian goods to China.
“China is our number one export partner, quite a lot of Georgian wine is being exported to China and we see a very good opportunity to increase Georgian exports to the Chinese market by improving these logistics”, Turnava said.
Georgia and China discuss the importance of strengthening cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative
Archil Kalandia and Yu Jun. Source: Embassy of Georgia to the People’s Republic of China
On December 11, the Ambassador of Georgia to China, Archil Kalandia, met with the Deputy Director of the Department of European-Central Asian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, Yu Jun.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed current issues in bilateral relations and agreed on the next year’s agenda, the Embassy of Georgia to China reported.
According to the Embassy, the importance of strengthening bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative was also underlined.
Georgian wine tastings held in China
“Georgian Wine Week” was held in Hong Kong. More than 400 guests attended the event and had the opportunity to get to know the products of 18 wine companies, Georgia’s National Wine Agency reported on December 12.
Georgia’s National Wine Agency and marketing company Meiburg Wine Media presented 13 small wine cellars to potential importers.
“In addition, Georgian wine seminars and tastings called “Georgian Wine Roadshow” were held in 3 other cities of the People’s Republic of China: Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Chengdu. Wines of different names of 12 Georgian wine companies were presented there”, Georgia’s National Wine Agency reported.
Caucasus Road Project: Nobody can compete with Chinese State-owned companies in Georgia
The Ambassador of Poland to Georgia, Mariusz Maszkiewicz said that EU Ambassadors were surprised because Georgia cooperates with China using EU money. On December 11, Paata Trapaidze, the founder of the company Caucasus Road Project commented on this topic.
“Today, seven Chinese companies are participating in tenders, and they are mainly state-owned companies. I have a question – which commercial company will compete with the state company?! This is absurd”, Paata Trapaidze said.
He said that no Georgian or European company can compete with Chinese companies.
“Georgian state companies do not have the right to participate in tenders, and why do state companies from other countries have them?! This results from opaque tenders, as no Georgian or European company can compete with Chinese companies. The solution is probably one – to ban all state-owned companies from participating in tenders. No Chinese commercial companies will participate. If there is any benefit for one side, then it should be the same for the other side, and this should apply to the restrictions as well”, Trapaidze said.
According to the company’s website, the Caucasus Road Project is “one of the largest road construction companies in Georgia”.
Confucius Institute in Georgia announced a competition for school students
On December 7, the Confucius Institute at the Free University announced that on December 26 it would host a Chinese speaking competition for school students with a topic: “Me and China”. 5th grade and senior students were eligible to participate in the online competition.
Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan held a seminar “China in the works of Azerbaijani Painters”
On December 8, on International Painters Day, the Confucius Institute at Azerbaijan Language University held a student online seminar entitled “China in the works of Azerbaijani Painters”.
Rafiq Abbasov, the director of the Confucius Institute’s Azerbaijan branch, talked about the art exchange between Azerbaijan and China, and the art exhibition held by Chinese painters in Baku.