|Author: 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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In January-February 2022, China was Georgia’s 4th biggest trade partner
In January-February 2022, China was Georgia’s 4th biggest trade partner ($238.3 million), Geostat reported on March 21. Compared to last year’s data from the same period, that is an increase of 9.4%.
China was Georgia’s 4th biggest import partner ($142.9 million) with 8% of total imports. Compared to last year’s data, it was a 1.9% increase.
In January-February 2022, China was Georgia’s biggest partner by export ($95.4 million). That is 12.5% of whole exports constituting a 77.3% increase compared to the January-February 2021 data.
Chinese Ambassador met with Armenian President
Fan Yong and Vahagn Khachaturyan. Source: Armradio
Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan met with the Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong.
Fan Yong congratulated President Khachaturyan on assuming the post and wished him “fruitful work in favor of strengthening and deepening Armenian-Chinese relations”, Armradio reported on March 22.
Khachaturyan and the Ambassador touched upon the agenda of bilateral relations, “the promising directions” of cooperation, and the opportunities for expanding cooperation in various fields.
Georgian Railway delegation discussed China-Europe container shipping in Tashkent
Photo from the meeting. Source: Georgian Railway
The Director of Freight Transportation of Georgian Railways Kakha Gudiashvili attended a working meeting of railway administrations and logistics companies held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Georgian Railway reported on March 23.
Reportedly, the main topic of discussion was the current challenges and future prospects of the corridor connecting China to Turkey and Europe via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
At the meetings, the foreign colleagues discussed “the responsibilities of the parties, the terms of shipment and the tariff conditions for the smooth operation of the container shipping”. They also expressed hope that “despite the situation in the region, the growing trend of cargo traffic on the existing route would be maintained”.
SCO considers granting observer status to Armenia and Azerbaijan
Illustration from Silk Road Briefing. Source: Silk Road Briefing
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Secretary-General Zhang Ming said that the member-states of the SCO were actively considering the issue of obtaining observer status by Armenia and Azerbaijan, Silk Road Briefing reported on March 24.
“In this regard, I am optimistic although at the moment I cannot name the exact time,” Ming added.
Chinese think tank representative spreads disinformation about a Georgian laboratory
On March 26, a Chinese state media outlet China Daily published a material entitled “What is the US overseas biological laboratory doing?”. Deputy Director at the Department for International and Strategic Studies at the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Yang Chenxi, repeated disinformation about Georgia’s laboratory.
“In recent years, in American biological laboratories accidents occurred frequently and surrounding diseases have frequently appeared, which has caused serious harm to local and global biosafety… In 2018, Georgia’s former Minister of State Security, Igor Giorgadze through the media exposed that the United States conducted secret human experiments at its domestic Lugar biological laboratory, resulting in the deaths of many participants,” Yang Chenxi reportedly said.
According to Myth Detector, Soviet state official and Georgia’s former Minister of State Security Igor Giorgadze later acknowledged regarding the so-called experiments that he had no proof. This is not the first time Giorgadze’s disinformation was published at a Chinese state media outlet.
According to President of the China Institute of International Studies, Xu Bu, CIIS is China’s “top think tank affiliated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.
Disinformation on Georgian laboratories in Chinese media
On March 22, another propaganda article on Georgia’s laboratories was published in the Chinese state-controlled propaganda media outlet Global Times. The author, Sheradil Baktygulov, claimed that “there were numerous reports on mysterious outbreaks of human illnesses and losses of livestock in Georgia, Ukraine and Russian provinces”.
Baktygulov continued: “From 2007 to 2012, the Russian provinces located not so far from Georgia reported losses of thousands of pigs due to African swine fever. At that year, the head of Russian state consumer protection agency Gennady Onishchenko informed that the African swine fever circulated from Georgia. Russia once claimed that the spread of the African swine fever from Georgia could have been linked to the activities of US biolabs in that country”.
Chinese Ambassador express gratitude to Armenpress
On the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Armenia, Chinese Ambassador to Armenia, Fan Yong expressed gratitude to the Armenpress news agency for supporting the work of the Chinese Embassy in Armenia. Fan Yong expressed hope for the continuation of good cooperation in the future and to “jointly promote the deep and lasting friendship of the two countries”, Armenpress reported on March 24.
The Ambassador also congratulated Narine Nazaryan on the occasion of being appointed as the Director of Armenpress: “…I am sure that by your smart leadership the agency will be able to achieve great success”.