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)
- Chinese Ambassador hopes that China and Georgia will further deepen political mutual trust, strengthen cooperation in various BRI fields
- Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan praises China, Azerbaijani-Chinese relations
- Chinese Ambassador, Yerevan Mayor inspect buses purchased by an ousted mayor
- Chinese media continues targeting Georgia’s Rose Revolution
- Azerbaijan’s ADY Container railway operator develops cooperation with China
- Chinese Embassy in Armenia willing to promote China-Armenia relations to a new level
- The Azerbaijan Trade Department was opened in Wuhan, China
- Armenian scholar wants China to fight “anti-China propaganda“
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Omitted news from December 11
Imbalance spotted in mutual investments of China and Azerbaijan
In December 2021, Civic Idea published a collection of articles entitled Analysis of the Growing Chinese Influence in South Caucasus and Central Asia. Three articles concerned China’s relations with Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The article about Azerbaijan contained information about the imbalance in mutual investments of the two countries: “While Chinese companies invest more than USD 800 million in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan’s investments in the Chinese economy amount to USD 1.7 billion“. The article also said that the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank “has provided a USD 600 million loan to finance the TANAP gas project.“
27.12.2021 – 2.1.2022
Chinese Ambassador hopes that China and Georgia will further deepen political mutual trust, strengthen cooperation in various BRI fields
Li Yan said that she hoped that the two countries would use the moment of the 30th anniversary of their diplomatic relations “to further deepen political mutual trust, to strengthen the cooperation in various Belt and Road Initiative fields, to take bilateral relations to a new level, and bring more prosperity to the Chinese and Georgian peoples“.
The Ambassador noted that the joint development of the BRI was an important part of the cooperation between the two countries, and according to Li Yan, China is intensively strengthening the BRI cooperation with Georgia.
Regarding the BRI the Ambassador added: “Georgia, as a country along the BRI, has a favorable geographical location. The Government of Georgia is also paying close attention to using this advantage and developing the role of a corridor connecting the country to Eurasia and actively promoting the creation and improvement of infrastructure in the country“.
In terms of building infrastructure, she noted that the two countries were already implementing a number of priority projects and there was a “huge potential“ for the development of cooperation.
During the interview, the Chinese Ambassador mentioned that through bilateral efforts, a number of agricultural cooperation projects were being implemented between the two countries, “including a project to support greenhouses“.
Li Yan also talked about pandemic cooperation, and while discussing the spread of the Omicron variant of novel coronavirus, she said that “China always actively“ responded to the needs of Georgia and “actively assisted within its capabilities“. Ambassador added that China was ready to help Georgia to emerge from the shadow of the epidemic as soon as possible and to restore the country’s socio-economic development.
The Georgian Times journalist also asked the Chinese Ambassador about the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and how China was preparing. While answering the question Li Yan said that “some countries and individuals“ wanted to “politicize“ sports, “which has led to opposition from most countries in the world. Eventually they will still have to deal with the failure“. Ambassador said that eight Georgian sportsmen had already qualified for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, and expressed hope that more Georgian athletes would take part in the Beijing Olympics.
Chinese Ambassador, Yerevan Mayor inspect buses purchased by an ousted mayor
Fan Yong and Yerevan Mayor Hrachya Sargsyan. Source: Hetq/Yerevan Municipality
On December 29, Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong and Yerevan Mayor Hrachya Sargsyan visited a Yerevan bus depot to inspect 211 Zhongtong buses purchased from China.
The Chinese buses were purchased by former Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutyan who was ousted from the post in December in a no-confidence vote. According to the report, Marutyan’s opponents in the Yerevan Municipal Council, among other things, accused him of “mismanaging the bus purchase auction“ and “deciding to purchase lower-quality Chinese buses“. The report said that the majority, My Step council argued it had intended to purchase European buses, while Marutyan refuted the charges and accused the council majority of inaction in the bus purchase process.
The Azerbaijan Trade Department was opened in Wuhan, China
G-Hub shopping center. Source: Azernews
The Azerbaijan Trade Department opened in the recently established G-Hub shopping center in Wuhan, China, Azernews reported on January 2.
The Trade Department will sell the food products produced in Azerbaijan under the “Made in Azerbaijan“ brand.
According to the report, G-Hub Group, a subsidiary of Greenland Group, will be the operator of the Azerbaijan Trade Department. Greenland Group, included in the Fortune Global 500 list, owns the G-Hub shopping center.
Vice-Governor of Hubei Province Zhao Haishan, President of Greenland Group Zhang Yuliang, Deputy Mayor of Wuhan Cheng Yongwen, Azerbaijani Trade Representative to China Teymur Nadiroglu and representatives of diplomatic missions in China attended the opening ceremony.
The Vice-Governor said that Wuhan consumers wanted to see more new products which were produced in other countries.
The report said that Azerbaijani shops would also operate in G-Hub shopping centers opened in different cities of China in accordance with the 2018 agreement reached between the Azerbaijan Trade Mission in China and the management of Greenland Group.
The trade department in Wuhan is the fourth one. Others have been opened in Shanghai, Harbin and Jinan.
Xi Jinping congratulated Armen Sarkissian on New Year and Christmas
On December 31, the Twitter page of Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian reported that the Chairman of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message “on the upcoming 2022 and Christmas“.
Azerbaijan’s ADY Container has launched a new cooperation with China
With the support of the Trade Representation of the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan in China, ADY Container railway operator launched a new cooperation with China, ADY Container reported on December 30.
The report said that with the support of the Trade Representation of the Ministry of Economy in China, an agreement was signed with Xi’an Free Trade Port Construction and Operation Co. for the transportation of goods in containers on the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route. Under the agreement, in 2022, cargo transportation by containers from China to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey will be carried out regularly.
Under the agreement, the container block train was delivered from Xi’an to Baku, leaving China on December 6. The train consisting of 50 containers, each 40-foot, carrying various freight to Azerbaijan, arrived in Baku on December 29. The report said that due to weather conditions, there was a delay of several days in the delivery of containers to Baku from the port of Aktau across the Caspian Sea.
According to the report, cooperation between Chinese companies and Azerbaijan Railways has expanded through the Strategic Cooperation Agreement in the field of transport and transit reached within the Belt and Road initiative in April 2019 in Beijing.
Chinese state media publishes Azerbaijani Ambassador’s congratulatory video
Akram Zeynalli. Source: CGTN
On January 1, the Chinese state-controlled media CGTN shared a video of Azerbaijan Ambassador to China Akram Zeynalli where he read a poem “Today Is the New Year“ by Nabi Khazri, and sent “his New Year blessings“.
“The new year 2022 is the year of the tiger. In Chinese belief, the tiger is the king of the animals here in China and symbolizes strength and bravery. So, I believe that 2022 will be also very positive and successful and a very good year, a very positive year for the world,“ The Ambassador said.
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry sums up relations with China
On December 30, Azernews published a report about the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s statement summing up the results of 2021.
“Noting that the relations with strategic partners expanded as well, the ministry stated that this cooperation was facilitated by bilateral visits at the highest level. The ministry noted that the focus is on relations with the US, China, and European countries,“ Azernews wrote.
On the continuation of political, economic, and transport-logistics cooperation between Azerbaijan and China, the Ministry noted that a telephone conversation between the heads of the two countries “gave impetus to the development of bilateral relations“. It was also said that the 8th meeting of the Azerbaijan-China intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation was held and various cooperation agreements were signed.
Chinese Ambassador attended video conference with Chinese-funded enterprises in Georgia
Li Yan and other representatives. Source: Chinese Embassy in Georgia
On December 29, Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Li Yan attended a video conference of Chinese-funded enterprises in Georgia. Zhao Chuanyi, counselor of the business office of the Chinese Embassy and representatives of 16 Chinese enterprises in Georgia attended the meeting.
Armenian scholar wants China to fight “anti-China propaganda“
The Chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies in Yerevan, Benyamin Poghosyan continued publishing pro-Beijing articles in Chinese state-controlled media. In a December 31 article entitled “SCO can help China build a multi-polar world“ Poghosyan wrote that China needed to deepen its diplomatic relations with the developed and developing countries, promote its development agenda, create more channels to share its views on “critical issues“ with the international community, and “fight against the anti-China propaganda“.
“Many Western governments and media outlets are spreading such notions as ’debt diplomacy’ and the ’China threat’ theory to spread anti-China sentiments across the world, including Africa, parts of Asia, Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics. So China needs to ensure the SCO, the Belt and Road Initiative and other regional and global development initiatives play a leading role in neutralizing the negative effects of such propaganda,“ Poghosyan wrote.
According to Poghosyan, China should pay more attention to public diplomacy and modernize the functioning of its embassies and other institutions working abroad: “especially because Chinese assistance to other countries is not being properly highlighted“.
“China should more actively engage with the other Belt and Road partner countries through the ’Digital Silk Road’, the ’Health Silk Road’ and other such programs to deepen diplomatic engagements with them,“ Poghosyan wrote. The Armenian scholar noted that in the face of “the growing scale of anti-China propaganda“, the SCO should serve as an important channel to “disseminate accurate information about China and its policies and make the establishment of genuine multilateralism a reality“.
Azertac article: Azerbaijan and China signed more than 70 agreements
On December 27, an article entitled “The cooperation based on a strong friendship: China – Azerbaijan“ was published in Azertac. An author Sadig Gachayev wrote positively about Chinese policies, China-Azerbaijan relationship and, at last, quoted the CCP Chairman Xi Jinping.
In the article, the author also wrote that Azerbaijan and China signed more than 70 documents: “If we look at more than 70 agreements, treaties, memoranda, protocols and other official documents that have been signed between the two countries, we can get an idea of the scale of Azerbaijan-China cooperation. The most interesting thing is these documents have not only political or economic content but also cover all spheres of society“.
According to the author, “the constant expansion of the international cooperation of the strongest and largest political organization of the region – the New Azerbaijan Party obviously“ made him proud.
Chinese Embassy in Armenia willing to promote China-Armenia relations to a new level
Chinese Embassy in Armenia representatives. Source: Chinese Embassy in Armenia
On January 1, the Chinese Embassy in Armenia held a New Year’s flag-raising ceremony, and the staff and their families attended the ceremony, the Chinese Embassy in Armenia reported on January 4.
The Chinese Embassy in Armenia wrote that in 2022, China and Armenia would celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
“We must stand on our posts and make persistent efforts to make proper contributions to the promotion of China-Armenian relations to a new level,“ The Embassy wrote.
Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan praises China, Azerbaijani–Chinese relations
On January 6, Chinese state media newspaper people.cn published an interview with the Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, Deputy Chairman of the New Azerbaijan Party and Executive Secretary of the New Azerbaijan Party Ali Ahmadov where he said that the Communist Party of China played “a decisive role“ in the process of contemporary China’s rejuvenation: “The leadership of the Communist Party of China is China’s basic reason for achievement“.
The report said that in July 2019, the New Azerbaijan Party and the Communist Party of China jointly held a seminar on CCP Chairman Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era in Baku, Azerbaijan. It was noted that more than 120 senior leaders from political parties and parliament, also the representatives of think tanks and media attended the meeting.
Akhmedov said that Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and “the successful experience of the CCP in governing the country“ provided “profound inspiration and valuable lessons“ for Azerbaijan to promote national governance and that it was worthy of “in-depth study by the international community and political parties of various countries including Azerbaijan“.
Akhmedov said that Azerbaijan was making every effort to help its development strategy and the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative joining up, and to unleash its advantages in transportation, logistics for achieving win-win cooperation.
Chinese media still targeting Georgia’s Rose Revolution
Chinese media continued targeting Georgia’s Rose Revolution. On January 7, Chinese Sina media outlet published an article “The first ’black swan’ in 2022 suddenly appears around China“ where the author discussed recent events in Kazakhstan. “…Russia has also learned its lesson,“ the author wrote, and noted that in the past years there had been many color revolutions around Russia: “Georgia’s ’Rose Revolution’ in 2003, Ukraine’s ’Orange Revolution’ in 2004, and Kyrgyzstan’s ’Tulip Revolution’ in 2005, especially Ukraine’s changed stance posed a serious challenge to Russia’s interests. The raging ’three evils’ (三个势力) in Central Asia made the situation especially delicate. Russia and the CSTO decided to send troops quickly this time“.
Another January 2 article in Sina wrote the following about the Rose Revolution: “When the ’Rose Revolution’ broke out in Georgia, the Georgia branch of the Open Society Foundation was the direct behind-the-scenes financial backer of then Georgian President Saakashvili. After the ’Rose Revolution’, one-fifth of the government officials serving in the new government had worked in the foundation and got monthly subsidies from [George] Soros“.
On December 27, Chinese state-controlled media CGTN published an article entitled “’Hybrid warfare and the hidden crisis for American hegemony“. The article contained the following passage: “Central Asia, due to its indispensable significance in geopolitics and energy strategies, was once a playground for the American-style hybrid warfare, too. Between 2003 and 2005, anti-government forces in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan mounted mass protests at the instigation of the U.S., leading to regime change“.
Another article was published on January 1 by Chinese state news agency China News entitled “The trick of ’forced labor’ played by the USA“, saying the following: “In 2005, things changed. This time point is very subtle, pointing to the ’color revolution’ stirring the unstable situation in Eurasia. Since 2003, Georgia’s ’Rose Revolution’, Ukraine’s ’Orange Revolution’, and Kyrgyzstan’s ’Tulip Revolution’ have successively happened in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the US State Department has publicly acknowledged that it played a ’central role’ in these ’regime changes’“.
Chinese Embassy will continue to support the work of the Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan
Guo Min with Confucius Institute representatives. Source: Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan
On January 6, the Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Guo Min had a discussion with the Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at Baku State University Wang Haoqiang, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at Azerbaijan University of Languages Li Jihua and teachers.
The Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan wrote that it would continue to support the work of the Confucius Institute.
On the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Azerbaijan it also wrote: “The Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan will support the Confucius Institute in conducting cultural exchange activities with diverse forms and rich contents, further pushing forward the deepening of China-Azerbaijan friendly and cooperative relations.“