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’s Presence, Activities and Influence in the South Caucasus
Propaganda and Disinformation
The Chinanews outlet continued the Chinese media’s prolonged disinformation offensive targeting Georgia, once again picking at the Lugar Research Center in its material from 3 March. The Chinese outlet, like others previously, employed Russian disinformation messages regarding the Lugar Center.
In an article from 22 March, China’s ambassador to Georgia, Zhou Qian, promoted Beijing’s latest major international policies: Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative, and Global Civilization Initiative. He also used the opportunity to push forward the Belt and Road Initiative and the Chinese regime’s concept of a community of a shared future of mankind.
Economic Involvement and Connections
China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited Georgia Branch was reported to be among the top ten investor companies in Georgia in 2022.
As reported on 15 March, Azerbaijani Minister of Digital Development and Transportation Rashad Nabiyev stated that the cost of delivery of one container from China through Georgia and Azerbaijan had been reduced from $5 000 to $3 200, and that the latter cost would remain fixed for the next three years.
South Caucasus Actors Expressing Support for China
An assistant professor at the Alte University in Tbilisi, Georgia, Giga Kikoria, published an article on 19 March at the Chinese CGTN outlet, praising official Beijing’s concept of a “community with a shared future for mankind,” which, according to Kikoria, “emphasizes the need for countries to work together in pursuit of common goals, rather than pursuing narrow self-interest and competing for power and resources.” Kikoria wrote that the concept “represents a vision of a better world,” and “is a vision that we should all embrace.” Kikoria said China had “an important role to play in bringing to fruition” this vision.
The head of EurAsiaAz “international expert club” and editor-in-chief of Baku Tribune outlet (Azerbaijan), Seymur Mammadov, published an article at China Daily on 24 March, where he called the CCP “balanced, wise and, most importantly, directed inward,” unlike the West whose way, according to Mammadov, is “based on expansion, suppression and eternal competition for the right to be the first and only.” He also praised China’s “alternative modernization model,” and Beijing’s diplomatic Global Civilization Initiative which Mammadov called “one of the keys to global stability and security.”
Stances and Activities by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Benefiting China’s Foreign Policy
Support for the Belt and Road Initiative
In a 7 March meeting with the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on European Affairs Wu Hongbo, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev stressed his country’s support for the BRI. Aliyev reiterated this stance in his 10 March letter to Xi Jinping.
In his 20 March article, Azerbaijani Ambassador to China Akram Zeynalli praised the BRI lavishly, writing that it “boosted economic and social welfare in many participating countries,” and “brings countries and peoples closer to each other.” Zeynalli wrote that “the BRI, which received wide international support from the first moment of its announcement, was also supported by the Republic of Azerbaijan, which made its significant contribution to the successful implementation of the project.” The ambassador also praised Beijing’s “community of shared future for mankind” concept saying it was helping “peaceful development in the world,” and the formation of “a more harmonious and just world order.”
Armenian ambassador to China Sergey Manasaryan employed the CCP rhetoric in his 17 March interview, when he praised the “Chinese path to modernization,” recommended “to strongly keep the way fixed by the ruling party, in our case, CCP” as a method of moving along this path, passed next to “the community of common destiny” as “one of the slogans of the Belt and Road Initiative,” and proposed creating “a new form of civilization” as a happy end at the final point of the journey.