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)


17.5.2021 – 23.5.2021

Georgia and China agree to strengthen cooperation

Li Yan and Irakli Garibashvili. Source: 1TV

The Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili held a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador Li Yan, MFA of China reported on May 17.

Li Yan conveyed the greetings from the Premier of the State Council of China Li Keqiang and “positively commented” on China-Georgia relations and results of cooperation in various fields, noting that China was willing to continue to work with Georgia to fight Covid-19, strengthen coordination in international affairs, push forward the development of bilateral relations and jointly develop the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation.

According to China’s MFA, Garibashvili praised China’s achievements in development and fighting the Covid-19. Irakli Garibashvili thanked China for its “strong support” in the fight against the epidemic. Georgian Prime Minister also noted that Georgia was “willing to strengthen communication and cooperation with China to jointly promote bilateral cooperation in various fields to achieve new results”.

The Georgian Public Broadcaster reported that the Prime Minister also thanked the Ambassador for donating 100 000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine and emphasized “the importance of receiving more doses of vaccine in a short time”.


Aliyev: Azerbaijan invested in BRI financially and politically

At the conference “South Caucasus: Prospects for Regional Development and Cooperation,” President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan considered China’s Belt and Road Initiative very important, Menafn reported on May 20.

“Azerbaijan on its territory completed all the necessary transportation projects, and already we have an important connection as part of the Belt and Road initiative,” Aliyev said.

According to Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan was providing its infrastructure, the Caspian seaport, and the railroad for this project.

“We invested in this project financially and politically,” stressed Aliyev.


In January-April, China was Georgia’s third-largest trading partner

On May 19, Geostat reported that in January-April 2021, China was Georgia’s third-largest trading partner – the turnover amounted to $425.6 million, 10.8% of the total trade.

China was Georgia’s top trading partner by exports with $198.8 million, which was 16.6 % of the total exports. That is an increase of 52.9% compared to the data from the same period last year when this number was $129.9 million. It is noteworthy that the top export item to China was copper ores and concentrates, comprising 82% of Georgia’s total exports to China ($164.7 million).

During January-April 2021, China was Georgia’s third-largest trading partner by imports with $226.9 million, which was 8.3% of Georgia’s total imports – an increase of 7.6% compared to the last year’s data when this number was $210.9 million.


Chinese company won another tender to restore road in Georgia

Deputy Chairman of the Roads Department of Georgia Salome Tsurtsumia and the representative of China Road and Bridge Corporation Wang Fuhua. Source: The Roads Department of Georgia

On May 17, Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation reported that it had signed an agreement with the Roads Department of Georgia on a road restoration project.

According to the Roads Department of Georgia, with the World Bank funds, a contract was signed for a road restoration project on nine different road sections (63 km in total) in Georgia’s Guria region and the winner of the international tender was a Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation.

China Road and Bridge Corporation reported that the Chairman of the Roads Department of Georgia Giorgi Tsereteli congratulated China Road and Bridge Corporation for successfully winning the tender.

The project will be finished in 18 months. The total cost of the project is GEL 58.5 million.

24.5 km section of Chokhatauri-Bakhmaro road, 10.3 km section of Chokhatauri-Zomleti road, 2.8 km section of Ozurgeti-Natanebi-Ureki road and 25.6 km Sajavakho-Chokhatauri-Ozurgeti-Kobuleti road will be restored.


Georgian official participates in an event of a Chinese think tank CASS

Jemal Putkaradze at the online event. Source: Facebook

On May 20, the research institute of the social development strategy of the Chinese think tank Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), with the help of Georgian Technical University China Research Center and other foreign China research centers, held an international discussion about “Social Development and Social Change of China”.

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 was among 30 scholars who took part in the online event.

According to CASS, among other topics, participants discussed China’s development opportunities and the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative.


China was Azerbaijan’s third-largest partner by import

In January-April 2021, China was Azerbaijan’s the third-largest import partner with $433.7 million, Azernews reported on May 18.


Georgian Ambassador spoke about “the importance” of cultural cooperation between Georgia and China

Archil Kalandia. Source: Georgian Embassy in China

On May 22, an exhibition of works by a Georgian sculptor working in China Alexander Gelashvili was held in Beijing. The exhibition was organized by the Embassy of Georgia in China.

According to the Georgian Embassy, during the event, the Georgian Ambassador to China Archil Kalandia spoke about the importance of cultural cooperation between the two countries.

Representatives of the diplomatic corps and various Chinese government agencies attended the event.


Confucius Classroom in an Armenian school held a cultural event

On May 20, in Yerevan Andranik Margaryan’s School, Confucius Classroom held an activity about blue and white porcelain. The head of Confucius Classroom Hona Arakelova attended at the event. 


23.5.2021 – 30.5.2021

Chinese Ambassador: We are ready to continue close cooperation with Georgia to contribute to the creation of a community of common health

On May 25, an article by the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Li Yan, “New chapter will be added to the China-Georgia friendship by promoting cooperation on vaccines”, was published in a Georgian news agency GT Media.

The Ambassador once again said that China supported the concepts like “community with shared future for mankind” and “community of common health”, noting that China had used its vaccines as “a global public good” and supported “international cooperation” on the epidemic.

Chinese Ambassador wrote that the Chinese side was ready to continue close communication with Georgia, to deepen international cooperation against the epidemic, including on the vaccines, and to contribute to the stability and growth of the world economy and to the creation of the “community of common health”.

Li Yan was pleased that Chinese vaccines were becoming popular in Georgia. She noted that the Georgian government’s decision to make vaccines accessible to the public and the active registration for getting the vaccines showed “credibility given to Chinese vaccines by the Georgian government and the public”.

Chinese Ambassador wrote that while there was “insufficient production of the vaccines in the world and unequal distribution, China, as a big state, took responsibility and actively promoted the fair distribution of vaccines”. The Ambassador emphasized the speech of Xi Jinping at the Global Health Summit on May 21 and repeated his words about rejecting “vaccine nationalism”.


Azerbaijani Embassy: China and Azerbaijan actively cooperate within the UN

Akram Zeynalli and Wu Jianghao. Source: MFA of China

On the occasion of 28 May, the Republic Day of Azerbaijan, the Embassy of Azerbaijan to China organized an official reception in Beijing.

At the event, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Wu Jianghao praised accomplishments of Azerbaijan, noting that Azerbaijan had achieved political stability and rapid economic development under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev. He said that despite the pandemic, relations between the two countries continued to develop in various fields and fruitful results were achieved within the Belt and Road Initiative.

According to the Embassy of Azerbaijan in China, it was noted that the two countries “actively cooperate within the UN and other international organizations”.

Wu Jianghao said that in the first quarter of 2021, trade turnover between the two countries more than doubled compared to the same period of the previous year, and the number of railway routes from China to Europe through Azerbaijan increased. Wu Jianghao also mentioned that the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater joined the Silk Road International Theater Alliance, thus opening “a new page with regard to cultural exchanges”.

Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of China said that China was ready to work with Azerbaijan to implement the intentions of the two heads of state to “develop relations between the two countries, to strengthen political trust, to advance mutual support, to deepen cooperation within the Belt and Road Initiative and to raise bilateral relations to a higher level”.

Azerbaijani Ambassador to China Akram Zeynalli pointed out that Azerbaijan and China had “historical roots in the ancient Silk Road” and the relations between the two were developing dynamically in all areas, noting that Azerbaijan attached great importance to its relations with China.


China’s Ambassador to Georgia: Chinese government never interferes in the tender process of companies and their commercial activities

On May 29, in an interview with Forbes Georgia, Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Li Yan discussed the China-Georgia relations.

The Ambassador was asked whether the fact that Chinese companies were mainly state-owned produced the effect that European companies could not compete with the Chinese ones in terms of the prices. The Ambassador answered that Georgian government officials had repeatedly stated that Chinese companies involved in infrastructure construction were under the supervision of the Georgian government and international financial institutions, and, together with companies from other countries, participated in international tenders in a fair and transparent environment. The Ambassador said that the Chinese companies strictly followed the laws of China and Georgia, comprehensively evaluated proposed tender projects and set prices accordingly.

Li Yan also claimed that the Chinese government never interfered in the tender process of companies and their commercial activities:

“If the representation of Chinese companies in other countries increased, it is a market choice and a choice of the local government and population”.

According to Li Yan, the Chinese companies had a competitive advantage in this field in terms of equipment and price, many of them having won tenders and entered the Georgian market. Also according to the Ambassador, currently about 20 companies established with the Chinese capital were mainly engaged in entrepreneurial activities in Georgia in the fields of infrastructure construction, investments and logistics among others.

The Ambassador also discussed China’s FTA with Georgia, noting that it was a great milestone in the bilateral cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and that the agreement greatly facilitated bilateral trade and the trade turnover grew steadily every year.

Li Yan said that there was reason to believe that in the future FTA would generate additional revenue, increase trade liberalization and simplify trade between the two countries. Chinese Ambassador expressed readiness to cooperate with Georgia to facilitate the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement, deepen business cooperation between the two countries and “achieve more fruitful results by promoting Belt and Road cooperation”.

In an interview, Li Yan also mentioned that Georgia was doing its best to become a transport corridor connecting Europe and Asia, actively promoted the construction of roads, railways, tunnels and other infrastructure and in recent years was actively announcing tenders for major construction projects.

During the interview Li Yan said that at the invitation of the Georgian government, Chinese tea companies were currently building tea plantations to help rebuild Georgia’s tea industry. She also noted that in 2015 a consensus was reached between the parties on the revival and development of tea agriculture in Georgia and a cooperation agreement was signed.

Regarding the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Li Yan once again repeated the narrative that China defended the “community with shared future for mankind” and pursued Xi Jinping’s promise on the availability of the vaccines as “a global public good”. Li Yan said that China greatly contributed to the implementation of the vaccination plan in Georgia and at the next stage China would continue to communicate closely with Georgia.


Foreign Ministries of Armenia and China held political consultations

Photo from the meeting. Source: Armradio

On May 26, the Armradio reported that political consultations had been held between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and China. From the Armenian side, the consultations were led by Deputy Foreign Minister Avet Adonts and on the Chinese side by Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Le Yucheng.

According to the MFA of China, the two sides exchanged views on bilateral relations, anti-epidemic cooperation and the development of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Le Yucheng noted that the current development of China-Armenia relations was good, the two sides maintained high-level exchanges, had overcome the impact of the epidemic and achieved growth in bilateral trade.

“The two sides should continue to straighten political mutual trust, deepen cooperation in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and launch a new phase of China-Armenia friendly cooperative relationship,” MFA of China wrote.

According to Armradio, Le Yucheng noted that China supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Armenia and emphasized that the full implementation of the provisions of the November 9, 2020 trilateral statement was the guarantee of regional security and stability.

Avet Adonts thanked the Chinese side for providing Armenia with 100 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine. According to Chinese MFA, Avet Adonts also praised China for “important dedication to the global fight against the epidemic”. He said that Armenia attached great importance to developing relations with China and, based on mutual trust and equality, was willing to deepen cooperation with China in all fields.


Xi Jinping: Azerbaijan and China support each other on issues of mutual interest

The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping congratulated Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on the Republic Day of Azerbaijan, Azertac reported on May 25.

Xi noted that China-Azerbaijan relations were experiencing dynamic progress:

“Our countries support each other on issues of mutual interest. The cooperation between our countries as part of the joint Belt and Road project continues to deepen; considerable results have been achieved in the joint fight against the COVID-19 pandemic”.

According to Xi Jinping, he attached special importance to the development of China-Azerbaijan relations and expressed readiness to make joint efforts with Azerbaijan to ensure the further development of “friendly relations and cooperation”.


Azerbaijan Railways: TEU transit through Azerbaijan grew mainly due to trade with China

On May 26,  Azerbaijan Railways Chairman Javid Gurbanov said that in the first months of 2021 container transit traffic through Azerbaijan grew by 49% and the growth was mainly due to China’s import and export operations, which increased by 2.8 compared to the same period last year reaching 4 300 TEU-containers.


Li Keqinag: We hope that China and Georgia can achieve a new level of bilateral cooperation

On May 26, the Premier of the State Council of China Li Keqiang congratulated Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on the Independence Day of Georgia.

According to Li Keqiang, despite the results of the Covid-19 pandemic, China and Georgia maintained a positive dynamic of bilateral relations, maintained cooperation in different fields and achieved sustained results. Li expressed hope that with joint efforts the two sides could achieve a new level of bilateral relations and pragmatic cooperation. 


China MFA: We hope Armenia and Azerbaijan will resolve their differences

China expressed hope that Armenia and Azerbaijan would resolve differences through dialogue, China’s Foreign Ministry Speaker Zhao Lijian said on May 24.

He was asked if China had a comment on the recent flare-up of tensions at the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

“Azerbaijan and Armenia are both China’s friendly cooperative partners. It is our sincere hope that the two sides resolve their differences and disagreements through dialogue and consultation and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability so that people can live in tranquility,” Zhao Lijian said in response.


President Aliyev gave the medal of friendship to a Chinese sculptor

On May 25, an event entitled “Nizami Ganjavi – The Poet of All Mankind” was held in Beijing. The special representative of the Chinese government for Eurasia Li Hui and foreign ambassadors attended the event.

The event was organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Embassy of Azerbaijan to the People’s Republic of China.

At the event, Azerbaijani Ambassador to China Akram Zeynalli said that the author of the bust of Nizami Ganjavi in ​​Chaoyang Park in Beijing, sculptor-artist Yuan Xikun, was awarded the medal of friendship by President Ilham Aliyev for his merits in the development of cultural ties between Azerbaijan and China.


Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan celebrated Chinese Youth Day

On May 16, to celebrate the Youth Day in China (May 4), the Confucius Institute at Azerbaijan University of Languages held an online seminar entitled “Azerbaijani and Chinese Youth”, Azertac reported on May 26.