Author: David Batashvili, Research Fellow at Rondeli Foundation
China Radar: South Caucasus is a monthly publication by Rondeli Foundation (GFSIS) dedicated to China’s activities and influence in the three nations of South Caucasus.
With the global rise of great power tensions and competition related to China’s role in the world, Rondeli Foundation began to take a closer look at China’s role in our own region. Since July 2020, we have been publishing China’s Activities in the South Caucasus digest that exhaustively covers events and developments in this regard. China Radar builds on China’s Activities digest to provide experts, researchers, civil servants and other observers of China’s foreign strategy with a comprehensive summary of China’s political, diplomatic, economic, informational, soft power and other activities towards Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia as well as these nations’ stances and actions concerning China.
Sources of information provided in China Radar can be found in the issues of China’s Activities digest covering the relevant months unless indicated otherwise. All issues of both China Radar and China’s Activities digest can be found on Rondeli Foundation’s China Watch page.
China-Georgia Strategic Partnership
On 21 December, Georgia’s foreign minister Ilia Darchiashvili called the criticism of the Georgia-China strategic partnership by its Georgian opponents “baseless and often irresponsible.”
On 26 December, Georgia’s prime minister Irakli Garibashvili said in a speech that Georgia had made a “huge break” by signing the strategic partnership with China, “a country which is the second largest economy in the world.”
China’s Presence, Activities and Influence in the South Caucasus
Speaking at a Georgian parliamentary committee meeting on 4 December after being invited to do so by the Georgian Dream party representatives, China’s ambassador to Georgia Zhou Qian promoted Xi Jinping’s Global Civilization Initiative, adding that Georgia was among its supporters.
Economic Involvement and Connections
As reported on 29 December, all five companies participating in the Georgian government’s tender to build a planned new highway near the Georgian-Russian border were Chinese.
On 22 December, Georgian economy minister Guram Guramishvili said that “the Agreement on International Passenger and Freight Transportation” had been reached with China. According to his ministry, the agreement “will facilitate attracting additional cargo routes to Georgia.”
South Caucasus Actors Expressing Support for China
On 4-7 December, Georgian pro-Russian and anti-Western TV channel Obieqtivi broadcasted “Xi Jinping’s Letters.” The broadcasts were praised by the Chinese embassy in Georgia.
Stances and Activities by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Benefiting China’s Foreign Policy
Support for the Belt and Road Initiative
On 8 December, Armenia’s labor minister Narek Mkrtchyan said that Armenia’s Crossroads of Peace project which included “not only the security dimension, but also communication, economic cooperation, and cultural exchange” and was supposed to make Armenia “an important player in the Eurasian region” was “in line with the One Belt One Road Initiative.”