|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)
Read full publication:
9.8.2021 – 15.8.2021
Georgian Economy Minister: The cargos coming from China or transported to China by container are tripling
On August 12, Georgia’s Economy Minister Natia Turnava said that the transportation by the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was developing at a very high pace and particularly noteworthy was the container cargoes bound for or from China through the Middle Corridor.
“[Middle Corridor’s] one of the strategic parts is Georgia… if we look at the growth rates, the cargos coming from China or transported to China by container are practically tripling,” she said.
Stalin’s museum director in Georgia talks about the museum’s relationship with China
Liana Okropiridze, the Director of Soviet dictator’s, Joseph Stalin’s museum in Gori, Georgia, published an opinion in Georgian newspaper Kviris Palitra’s August 9-15 edition, entitled “China and China-Georgia relations through my eyes – the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the CCP”.
She discussed and praised Chinese civilization, culture, China-Georgia “respectful” and “mutually beneficial” relations, Silk Road and New Silk Road.
Liana Okropiridze also discussed the museums’ relationship with China. She wrote that in July 2014, on the initiative of China’s MFA and Information Ministry, Chinese media representatives started the 10 000km journey on the “Silk Road”. She noted that they also visited Stalin’s museum in Gori, Georgia, and they prepared advertisement for Chinese tourists as part of the project. She also said that in September 2015, Stalin’s museum hosted the participants of China’s beauty contest and one of the stages of the competition was held in the museum’s exhibition space.
She noted that China’s representatives have always attracted great attention to Stalin’s museum, and that tourists, governmental delegations, politicians, ministers, vice-premier and others visited the museum, but Chinese ambassadors and embassy representatives had particular relationships.
She also said that on the initiative of the Chinese Embassy, museum staff was sent to China for training and upgrading their skills.
Liana Okropiridze added that in 2017, Stalin’s museum signed a memorandum on cooperation with Mao Zedong’s museum leadership.
“The document envisages the relationship between the museums in the field of education, science, information exchange and working visits”. Okropiridze said that representatives of the Shida Kartli administration attended the ceremony.
The Chinese Embassy of Georgia also published this article in Chinese.
Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan praises China’s pandemic origins investigation efforts
Guo Min. Source: Vzglyad.az
On August 13, Seymur Mammadov, the director of the Eurasia-Azerbaijan (EurAsiaAz) international expert club and editor-in-chief of Azerbaijani news agency Baku Tribune interviewed the Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Guo Min, Vzglyad.az reported.
During the interview, the Ambassador claimed that from the very beginning of the epidemic, China had demonstrated a scientific, professional, serious and responsible approach to studying the origin of the coronavirus.
Guo Min also mentioned the March 2021 joint China-WHO study on the origin of Covid-19 and said that this report laid “a good foundation for a global investigation of the source of origins of Covid-19”.
“China has demonstrated openness and transparency in the study of the origin of the coronavirus, which has won the full approval of international experts,” the Ambassador said. Guo Min argued that they have continually seen “a small number of states” stigmatizing, labeling, and politicizing its origins.
It is noteworthy that according to the Washington Post, the WHO expert who led the mentioned study said that the Chinese side influenced the presentation of their findings.
Chinese media once again spreads propaganda about Georgian laboratory
On August 12, the Chinese Sina media outlet published an article entitled “A coronavirus that could cause a pandemic was discovered in 2014? What is the US Army’s Georgian Biological Laboratory hiding”. As part of the campaign shifting focus from the investigation on pandemic origins in China, Chinese state media also pushes conspiracy theories, mostly blaming the US.
Propaganda about Georgian and US laboratories is spread in some of the most prominent Chinese state media outlets, and was also spread in the past.
The Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan held another event
On August 13, the Confucius Institute at Azerbaijan University of Languages held an online lecture on “Chinese Valentine’s Day”.
According to Azertac, the Director of the Confucius Institute Rafiq Abbasov introduced information about the traditional Chinese festival.
15.8.2021 – 22.8.2021
President of Armenia’s National Assembly: All efforts will be aimed at strengthening cooperation between parliaments of Armenia and China
Fan Yong and Alen Simonyan. Source: News.am
On August 20, the President of Armenia’s National Assembly Alen Simonyan received Chinese Ambassador Fan Yong, News.am reported.
Simonyan highlighted Armenia’s “effective” cooperation with China and emphasized the “tangible” results in many spheres. Simonyan assured the Ambassador that “thanks to the high level of political dialogue”, all efforts would be aimed at strengthening and developing cooperation between parliaments of the two countries. He also thanked Fan Yong for China’s Covid-19 pandemic assistance “received at the right time”.
The Ambassador assured Simonyan of China’s readiness for “multidisciplinary” cooperation and stressed the need for mutual visits of friendship groups. According to him, such visits make Armenia-China relations, which are based on solid foundations, more substantial.
Chinese Ambassador to Georgia discusses origins of Covid-19 investigation
Li Yan. Source: Newsday
On August 19, Newsday published an interview with the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Li Yan. Li Yan said that since the epidemic outbreak, China has been operating under the concept of a “community of common health for mankind” and discussed provided assistance to the international society.
She also said that China has always shown a scientific approach and is actively involved in global scientific research to determine the source. The Ambassador emphasized that the March 2021 joint China-WHO study on the origins of Covid-19 scientifically concluded that laboratory leak was very unlikely and made important recommendations, including to continue the search for early cases globally.
“China believes that searching for the source of the virus is a scientific issue and strongly opposes its politicization. Some countries have been politically manipulated to track the source of the virus due to ineffective anti-epidemic efforts and to avoid responsibility for that, which seriously impacts the overall picture of international anti-epidemic cooperation,” Li Yan said.
It is worth mentioning that according to the Washington Post, the WHO expert who led the mentioned study said that the Chinese side influenced the presentation of their findings and in the beginning, China didn’t want anything about the laboratory leak theory in the report. On laboratory leak theory, WHO Director also said that this required further investigation.
Georgia’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth signed a cooperation agreement with China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Archil Kalandia and Zhang Xu. Source: The Embassy of Georgia to China
On August 16, the Ambassador of Georgia to China Archil Kalandia, and the Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China, Zhang Xu, signed a protocol on cooperation between the Georgian Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China for 2021-2025.
The Ambassador and the Deputy Minister discussed the new agenda of bilateral cooperation in the field of culture.
“The great potential of the tourism sector and the need to intensify contacts in this direction were also noted,” the Embassy of Georgia reported. The two sides agreed to continue coordinated work.
Armenian scholar continues to push the pro-Beijing, anti-American narrative
An Armenian scholar, the Chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies in Yerevan, Benyamin Poghosyan, continued his anti-American and pro-Beijing narrative and blamed the US for the politicization of the pandemic. In a recent interview with Chinese media on the origin of Covid-19, he repeated that the US wanted to “blame” China.
“I fully understand that the United States wants to blame China. The United States wants WHO to find some evidence… that it is somehow man-made or this lab leak theory in China… So, if there is a politicized investigation it means, there is a lack of trust”.
Poghosyan worries that this affects China’s image negatively:
“This definitely damages China’s image because ordinary people may think: “Look, there is one investigation in China, now a second investigation, and we will have a third investigation. It means that something is not going well in China or something was wrong in China,” – CCTV reported him saying on August 17.
Georgian Dream party member shares his work experience in China
CEO of Georgia’s Partnership Fund, a ruling Georgian Dream party member and the Co-Chairman of the Georgia-China joint intergovernmental commission on economy and trade David Saganelidze published an article in Georgian newspaper Kviris Palitra’s August 16-22 edition, entitled “China and China-Georgia relations through my eyes – the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the CCP”.
He wrote that he first got to know China in 2013 as the leader of the parliamentary majority and Georgia-China parliamentary friendship group and the head of the delegation during his first visit to China.
“This visit left an indelible impression and impressed me greatly,” Saganelidze wrote and continued with praising China’s “poverty alleviation”.
He feels proud to have met Chairman of the CCP Xi Jinping five times as well as other officials. Saganelidze wrote that in 2019 he received a golden camel award from China’s government for distinctive leadership.
Saganelidze said that Chinese Foreign Minister’s Wang Yi’s 2019 visit to Georgia was “historic” and assumed it expressed China’s interest and support for Georgia. He said that Wang Yi respected Georgian culture and especially Georgian folklore and during one meeting in Shanghai, a Chinese diplomat told him how excited he was by Georgian songs. “This meeting made me see the actuality of Mr Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative for Georgia. I realized that my main role should have been presenting Georgia’s, as an independent, sovereign country’s importance and function to China so that my country could also take its seat on the large-scale map of the most global project”.
Saganelidze said that it was a great honour to be the Co-Chairman of the Georgia-China joint intergovernmental commission on economy and trade and from the Georgian side being the head of the project of bilateral cooperation plan between Georgia’s and China’s governments within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative with the China’s reform and development committee.
David Saganelidze also said with “pride” that the Partnership Fund of Georgia played a significant role in deepening and straightening China-Georgia economic and trade relations. Saganelidze also noted the close cooperation with China’s technology markets development association. He wrote that with the organization, they are actively trying to facilitate high-technology transfers to Georgia and introduction of Georgian start-ups to them.
He wrote that in China’s Jiangxi province, investment company head opened the biggest Georgian cultural centre, in the city of Nanchang.
Saganelidze also highlighted the relationship with China’s Gansu province. According to him, the Partnership Fund and Wuwei’s Customs Logistics Center with a joint company plan to develop hub-ports and logistical customs centers. He also said that semi-processed goods produced in China would be gathered, assembled in Georgia, and exported to the EU. Saganelidze added that they were also working on the China-Europe railroad corridor to become more active.
In January-July 2021, China was Georgia’s third-largest trading partner
In January-July 2021, China was Georgia’s third-largest trading partner, Geostat reported on August 19. The turnover between China and Georgia amounted to $829.9 million (11.1% of the total turnover).
China was Georgia’s biggest trading partner by exports ($370.4 million) which was 16.3% of Georgia’s total exports, amounting to the growth of 48.7% compared to the same period of 2020. The top export item was copper ores and concentrates, 82.3% of Georgia’s total exports to China ($305 million).
During January-July 2021, China was Georgia’s third-largest partner by import with $459.4 million (8.8% of total imports). Compared to the same period last year, that was a growth of 21.1%.
Armenian and Chinese sides discussed the need for expansion of economic relations, deepening of cooperation in high technology and education
Fan Yong and Hakob Arshakyan. Source: News.am
Deputy Speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly Hakob Arshakyan met with the Chinese Ambassador to Armenia, News.am reported on August 19.
Arshakyan attached importance to further deepening and developing the relations between Armenia and China and stressed the “importance of the strengthening cooperation between and reciprocal visits of the parliamentary friendship groups”.
They emphasized the need for expansion of economic relations and the deepening of cooperation in high technology and education. They also exchanged views on the enhancement of postal services and the launch of air communication.
The Ambassador expressed willingness to further intensify and deepen the “friendly ties between the two countries”.
China was Azerbaijan’s 4th biggest trade partner in January-July 2021
In January-July 2021, China was Azerbaijan’s fourth biggest trade partner with a turnover of $964.4 million, Azernews reported on August 18.
The Chinese Foreign Minister is ready to raise Sino-Armenian relations to a new level of development
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed readiness to deepen multifaceted relations with Armenia, PanARMENIAN.Net reported on August 21.
In a letter sent to Armenia’s newly-appointed Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, Wang Yi wrote:
“Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, active contacts at various levels have been ensured, practical cooperation and partnership has been steadily promoted in the international arena, and the healthy and stable dynamics of Sino-Armenian relations have been consistently maintained.”
The Chinese Foreign Minister expressed to Mirzoyan his readiness to strengthen the communication and cooperation between their departments, to deepen the multifaceted cooperation and to raise the Sino-Armenian relations to a new level of development.
Deputy Speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly met with Chinese Ambassador
Fan Yong. Source. News.am
Deputy Speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly Ishkhan Saghatelyan met with the Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong, News.am reported on August 19.
“During the last 30 years, more than 40 agreements, more than one memorandum have been signed between Armenia and China, which serves as a good opportunity for cooperation between the two countries,” Saghatelyan said.
During the meeting, the issue of security and stability in the region was highlighted.
Saghatelyan also discussed Armenia’s security issues with Azerbaijan and said:
“The passive stance of the international community towards the actions of Azerbaijan is surprising for us”.
The Ambassador told him that the problems should be solved through peaceful means – negotiations and dialogues: “We support the maintenance of territorial integrity. Security and peace will be at risk in this region without stability”.