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 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)
5.4.2021 – 11.4.2021
Most humanitarian aid sent to Armenia, after the US, came from China
According to Armenia’s Statistical Committee, in January-February 2021, most humanitarian aid sent to Armenia, after the US, came from China.
$ 470 700 worth of humanitarian aid was sent from China – four times more than last year during the same period, Armenpress reported on April 5.
Georgian Ambassador to China met the leadership of China’s Anhui province
Archil Kalandia and Wang Qingxiang. Source: Embassy of Georgia to the People’s Republic of China
From April 6 to 8, the Georgian Ambassador to China Archil Kalandia visited Hefei, in China’s Anhui province where he held meetings with the governor of Anhui Wang Qingxiang, general directors of the province’s foreign relation department and department of commerce as well as representatives from local business circles.
According to the Embassy of Georgia to the People’s Republic of China, during the meetings, bilateral cooperation in the fields of investment, trade, logistics and tourism was discussed and the agenda for future partnerships was also planned.
In January-February 2021 the export from Armenia to China increased
In January-February 2021, the export from Armenia to China increased by 3.4 times compared to the same period last year, comprising $ 54 564 400, Armenpress reported on April 6.
Chinese Ambassador: At the request of the Georgian side, China supplied vaccine to Georgia
According to Interpressnews, Ambassador Li Yan said that during the pandemic China and Georgia are helping each other.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed. Demand for vaccines, both internationally and domestically, is very high, and the volume of vaccine production is insufficient. In this situation, at the request of the Georgian side, the Chinese side supplied the vaccine to Georgia,” – Li Yan said on April 5.
She claimed that the safety and efficacy of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine were widely recognized by the international community.
According to Li Yan, the WHO said that Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines met the requirements in terms of safety and efficacy.
Georgian Dream MP: Vaccination with Sinopharm starts only after it receives WHO authorization
On April 5, the Chairman of the Committee of Health and Social Affairs at the Parliament of Georgia Dmitri Khundadze said regarding the decision to purchase Chinese Sinopharm vaccine that Georgian authorites had taken measures before the demand for it would increase even more:
“There is a very high probability, almost 100% probability, that it will be internationally recognized, and after that the demand for it will increase even more and the supply will decrease, so we have taken measures”.
Khundadze said that the Sinopharm vaccine had a high efficacy rate and side effects were minimal.
He noted that “the conditions remain unchanged, and [vaccination] will start only after it receives the authorization from the World Health Organization”.
Director-General of the Georgian national disease control centre might get vaccinated with the Chinese vaccine
According to the Director-General of the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia Amiran Gamkrelidze, he might get vaccinated with the Chinese vaccine, Tabula quoted Gamkreladze as saying on April 6.
Georgia-China relations in a public survey
A public opinion survey was conducted in Georgia by the International Republican Institute from February 2 to February 26, 2021. The survey included several questions about Georgia-China relations.
On the question how would they evaluate the current state of the relationship between Georgia and China, 57% respondents think that the current state of the relationship between Georgia and China is good, 20% believe that this relationship is neither good nor bad, 13% assess the relationship as bad and another 10% didn’t answer the question.
To the question which countries a respondent considers the greatest political/economic partners of Georgia and which pose the greatest political/economic threat, the answers were following: 11% thinks that China is among the most important economic partners; 4% considers China among the most important political partners; 5% believes that China is among greatest economic threats and for 2% China is among greatest political threats to Georgia (on those questions, multiple responses were accepted).
The survey was published on April 5.
Georgian Health Minister says there are no questions about Sinopharm credibility
On April 5, Georgian Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze said that there were no questions about the credibility of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine:
“It is important that more than 40 million people have already been vaccinated with Sinopharm vaccine and therefore, there are no questions about its credibility”.
11.4.2021 – 18.4.2021
Former US official: Looking to China as an alternative to Russia would be a mistake for Georgia
On April 14, at the online event organized by the Economic Policy Research Center and the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Democracy Initiatives, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, David Kramer, said that it would be a mistake for Georgia to look to China as an alternative to Russia.
Kramer and former United States Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly recently published a joint report on Georgia, “A Country on the Verge: The Case for Supporting Georgia”. According to the report, “Georgia should not look to China as an alternative to Russia. The West, not Russia or China, will open more political and economic doors for Georgia”. Kramer was asked about this part of the report.
“The reason we mentioned China is there tends to be bipartisan support in the United States to take a tougher line towards China and countries that look to, to say that Georgia is cozying up to China is maybe unfair, but to look to China as an alternative to Russia I don’t think will sit very well in Washington. China, obviously, doesn’t pose a military threat to Georgia, but China has a way of making countries indebted to it by providing financial assistance and loans and other things. China looks to fill voids that other countries leave and this means that the West, the EU perhaps and particularly, as well as the United States, need to step up and provide more support for Georgia so that China is not viewed as an alternative, since Russia is not really an option,” Kramer said.
He stressed that China was a brutal, authoritarian regime and the Communist Party of China was not a friend of Georgia: “People maybe are friends of Georgia. But the leadership in China is not”.
“So, given that it is an authoritarian regime, given that it looks to use economic and financial assistance to hook countries and make them dependent on China and given that they don’t care about human rights and democracy, they just want greater control, they want to be able to flex their economic and military muscles, I think, looking to China as an option would be a mistake on the part of Georgia,” said Kramer.
Imnadze: Many of my colleagues are waiting for the Chinese vaccine
According to the Deputy Head of Georgia’s National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, Paata Imnadze, many of his colleagues were waiting for the Chinese vaccine.
“By the way, I know many of my colleagues, doctors who have big experience in vaccination, and they are waiting for the Chinese vaccine,” Tabula quoted Imnadze on April 13.
He also said that the purchase of Chinese vaccines was not that easy.
Georgia announces it will use a Chinese vaccine before the WHO authorization
On April 16, Deputy Health Minister of Georgia Tamar Gabunia said that vaccination with the Sinopharm vaccine would start at the beginning of May.
The Deputy Minister noted that “given the epidemic risks and expected benefits, experts support the timely start of vaccination with the Sinopharm vaccine”.
According to Tamar Gabunia, the Chinese vaccine authorization would be discussed by the World Health Organization by the end of April.
She also said that due to the current epidemic situation and the fact that AstraZeneca was only allowed for people who are 55 years older, it was necessary not to waste time, and even if the vaccines are not authorized by April “it should not further delay the vaccination process”.
Gamkrelidze: Negotiations underway for receiving another 500 000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine
On April 18, the Director-General of the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia Amiran Gamkrelidze said that negotiations were underway with Sinopharm to provide Georgia with additional 500 000 doses of the vaccine:
“We are talking about the half a million doses that we expect from June”.
Gamkrelidze noted that the immunization council decided that vaccination with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine would start on May 4.
Chinese Ambassador: Chinese government is interested in the expansion of relations with Armenia
Arsen Torosyan met with Fan Yong. Source: News.am
On April 15, Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister of Armenia Arsen Torosyan met with the Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong.
According to News.am, they stressed the importance of the ongoing development of the friendly relations between Armenia and China and underscored the need to give a new impulse to them.
Ambassador said that the Chinese government was also interested in the expansion of relations with Armenia in various fields.
Torosyan “highly appreciated” the assistance that the Chinese government has provided to Armenia in various sectors, including the development of infrastructure, education and healthcare.
“He also attached importance to the intensification of works for the expansion of Chinese businesses’ involvement in the Armenian market,” the Armenian news agency reported.
They also discussed the opportunities for exchange of experience in the public administration sector, growth of trade turnover, implementation of infrastructure projects and activation of tourist flows.
Chinese ambassador notes positive comments by South Caucasus diplomats about Xinjiang
On April 15, Chinese Ambassador to Estonia Li Chao published an article about Xinjiang in an Estonian newspaper, entitled “The Truth will Outrun the Lie”. In the article, he wrote about the recent visit to Xinjiang by more than 30 diplomats from over 20 countries. He paraphrased the positive comments made by the Armenian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors during their visit to Xinjiang.
Ambassadors from Armenia and Azerbaijan, and an envoy from Georgia, visited Xinjiang from March 30 to April 2.
Azerbaijan and China discussed bilateral cooperation
The interview with Akram Zeynalli. Source: iChongqing
On April 15, Azerbaijani Ambassador to China Akram Zeynalli said that he had met with Chinese representatives in Chongqing, China to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries.
According to the Ambassador, the two sides discussed how they could develop bilateral relations and bring “Azerbaijani high-quality products” to the Chongqing market as well as how to attract Chinese investment to Azerbaijan.
He also met with the Mayor of the city, Tang Liangzhi, signing with him an agreement on the establishment of the relations between the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan and Chongqing.
It includes cooperation in different fields such as university exchanges, tourism activities, and cultural events planned for the next year.
According to Zeynalli, the two sides discussed how Nakhichevan and Chongqing could together realize projects that develop regional cooperation, because as the Ambassador noted, after the liberation of Azerbaijani territories, Azerbaijan was to connect with Nakhichevan by the railroad which would open new opportunities for cargo transport from China through Azerbaijan and Turkey to Europe.
The two sides also agreed to establish relations between the universities of Chongqing and Nakhichevan and also with the Baku State University, including the exchange of students and professors.
They also discussed how to attract tourists from Chongqing to Azerbaijan: “We discussed the possibility of opening direct flights between Baku and Chongqing”.
The Ambassador said that in the future they may even consider opening direct flights between Nakhichevan and Chongqing.
Azerbaijani and Chinese sides talked about the possibility of opening an Azerbaijani trade house in Chongqing. The Ambassador noted that recently they had opened trade houses in the Chinese cities of Urumqi (in Xinjiang), Shanghai, and Luzhou. He also announced that next week they would open a trade house in Qingdao and the opening of a trade house in Chengdu was also under consideration.
Georgian Ambassador to China met with a Chinese representative
The Georgian Ambassador at the meeting. Source: Embassy of Georgia to the People’s Republic of China
On April 16, the Ambassador of Georgia to China Archil Kalandia held a meeting with the President of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME) Zhang Yujing.
The two sides discussed areas of bilateral cooperation. The Ambassador introduced the Chinese side to the favourable business environment and investment opportunities in Georgia.
Azerbaijani products exhibited on Chinese market
On April 3-6, with the support of the Azerbaijan Export Promotion and Investment Fund (AZPROMO) and Azerbaijan’s Commercial Representative Office in China, Azerbaijani wines appeared at the wine theme exhibition held in Chengdu, China, Azertac reported on April 12.
From April 7 to 9, the products of the Made in Azerbaijan brand were also exhibited at the China International Food and Beverage Exhibition.
China preparing to donate vaccines to Armenia
On April 13, JAMnews reported that the Armenian Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan said there was a preliminary agreement with the Chinese government for the donation of the Sinovac vaccine.
According to the Minister, the Chinese vaccine would arrive in the near future.
Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan held another seminar
On April 2, the online seminar on the 29th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and China was held at the Confucius Institute at Azerbaijan University of Languages, Azertac reported on April 12.
According to the director of the Confucius Institute’s Azerbaijan branch Rafiq Abbasov, Azerbaijan is located in the center of Eurasia, has good infrastructure conditions, is rich in oil and gas natural resources and is an important regional hub for China’s Belt and Road global economic initiative.
Georgian official participated in a Chinese online event on the Belt and Road Initiative
Jemal Putkaradze. Source: Facebook/Jemal Putkaradze
According to an adviser to the Georgian Minister of Agriculture and the Director of the Research Institute of China Studies at the Georgian Technical University, Jemal Putkaradze, on April 16, in Kunshan, China an international online conference titled Kunshan & The Belt and Road Initiative was held under the auspices of the Mayor of Kunshan Municipal People’s Government, Chen Liyan.
Putkaradze wrote that the topic of his presentation was “Georgia-China, Collaborative Innovation, and Mutually Beneficial Development”.
According to Jemal Putkaradze, the prospects for educational, scientific, and agricultural innovation development and trade cooperation were outlined between Georgia and Kunshan.
The Georgian side made an offer for a similar forum to be held in Tbilisi after the lifting of the Covid restrictions. Chen Liyan accepted the invitation.
In 2022, China is willing to push Armenia-China bilateral relations to a new level
Mher Grigoryan and Fan Yong. Source: The Embassy of China in Armenia
On April 12, the Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia Mher Grigoryan.
They discussed bilateral relations, strengthening the economic, trade, investment, and personnel contacts between the two countries.
According to the Chinese Embassy in Armenia, in 2022, at the 30th anniversary of Armenia-China diplomatic relations, China is willing to take this as a turning point to push forward bilateral relations to a new level.
Grigoryan thanked China for economic and technical assistance during the pandemic. He noted that Armenia attached great importance to developing relations with China and was willing to work with China to promote cooperation, achieve more results, including opening direct flights between Armenia and China, facilitating personnel exchange, and welcoming Chinese businesses in Armenia to take part in the construction of regional interconnection projects.