|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 175th out of 180 countries)
News from 10-13 August
Chinese company in Georgia fined for failing to fulfill terms of a contract
On August 10, Agenda reported that according to the Georgian Infrastructure Ministry, the contractor company for a road rehabilitation project in Georgia’s western Guria region, China Road and Bridge Corporation was fined $629,664 for failing to fulfill the terms of the contract in three sections of the road.
Reportedly, the statement was a response to a media report and it rejected that the company had escaped a fine, adding that the news story about the project was “saturated with factual errors”.
The Ministry noted the contract with the company had been terminated on one section of the road out of nine due to a delay in the execution of the work per schedule, saying the company had reimbursed $1.7 million to the state budget. It noted that the company had received only $4.8 million for advance payment and actual execution, out of the contract sum of $21.6 million. “As of today, the company has significantly increased the pace of production of road rehabilitation works. However, the progress of works remains under monitoring and in case of insufficient progress, appropriate measures will be taken as stipulated in the contract”, the Ministry said.
According to the Agenda, the renovation project of nine road sections with a total distance of up to 63 kilometers in the Guria region was funded by the World Bank.
Armenian scholar’s pro-Beijing statement about Taiwan
The chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies in Yerevan, Benyamin Poghosyan made a pro-Beijing comment about Taiwan, a Chinese news outlet reported on August 13.
Poghosyan said that facts had proved that the historical trend of cross-strait reunification was unstoppable: “Any move towards so-called Taiwan’s splitting action will only bring harm to the Asia-Pacific region and the world. The world today is facing multiple challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and economic recession. All countries should take the responsibility to stabilize the situation and not to create a crisis”.
15.08.2022 – 21.08.2022
Chinese media once again attacks Georgian research center
On August 19, China Daily published another piece of disinformation about Georgia’s Lugar Center laboratory entitled ‘How Many? What to do? Is it safe? Experts from many countries questioned the overseas biological laboratories of the United States’. The content involved disinformation and propaganda about the Lugar research center: “According to Georgia’s national security department, the US-controlled Lugar Center in Georgia tested a new deadly toxin on local volunteers, resulting in dozens of deaths… Georgian media said that the US military is studying insect biological attacks at the Lugar Center, which spread diseases through biological attacks”.
Azerbaijan is an important partner in the BRI, Chinese Ambassador says
The Azerbaijani journal Milli Mejlis published an interview with the Ambassador of China to Azerbaijan, Guo Min, where she discussed China-Azerbaijan relations, the Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan reported on August 17.
Guo Min said that China’s proposed joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative was highly compatible with Azerbaijan’s national development strategy, Revival of the Great Silk Road. The Ambassador added that Azerbaijan was an important partner in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative.
“Countries cooperate closely in the international arena, firmly stick to the principles of multilateralism, protecting the authority of the United Nations and upholding the interests of developing countries,” Guo Min said about the relations between the two countries. The Chinese Ambassador noted that the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative proposed by the CCP Chairman Xi Jinping received strong support from the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
“In recent years, with the personal assistance of the two heads of state, the legislatures of China and Azerbaijan maintained a high level of cooperation, and the political parties and parliaments of the two countries exchanged frequent visits,” The Ambassador said. Guo Min also said that the International Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party had planned to invite 100 members of the New Azerbaijan Party to visit China within five years, and the first delegation of 20 members already had a successful trip to China, reportedly, in September 2019. According to the Ambassador, the project was temporarily suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the invitation from the Chinese side remained valid.
China – fourth biggest exporter of cotton to Georgia
On August 21, Bpn reported that according to the data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, in January-July 2022, 574.8 tons of cotton ($6,424 million) was imported into Georgia and the fourth biggest import partner of cotton was China with 26.9 tons of cotton ($152.2 thousand).
According to the US Department of Homeland Security, “there are reports that forced labor is used in the production of cotton in the PRC”. In June 2022, the US began implementing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act’s provisions “to prohibit imports made by forced labor into the United States of products made in Xinjiang”.
China to participate in the international defense exhibition in Baku
Azerbaijan’s capital Baku is set to host the international defense exhibition ADEX at the Baku Expo Center on September 6-8, Azernews reported on August 20.
Reportedly, over 200 companies from 26 countries are anticipated to attend the event “to showcase their cutting-edge weaponry and equipment”. Participants are to include top military businesses from several countries, including China.
The event will be organized by the Caspian Event Organizers Company at the initiative of the Azerbaijani Defense Industry Ministry with the support of the Defense Ministry.
In January-July 2022, China was Georgia’s third-biggest trading partner
In January-July 2022, China was Georgia’s third-biggest trading partner with $ 1 094.6 million, which was 10.7% of the total Georgian trade, the National Statistics Office of Georgia published data on August 19.
China was Georgia’s top trading partner by exports with $475.6 million, which was 15.3% of total exports and compared to January-July 2021, that was a 29.4% growth.
China was also the third-biggest import partner of Georgia with $619 million (8.7% of total imports). Compared to the same period last year, that was a 34.7% growth.
Kutaisi and Nanchang signed a memorandum to establish bilateral relations and develop cooperation
A photo from the online event. Source: Kutaisi city hall
The Mayor of Georgian city, Kutaisi, Ioseb Khakhaleishvili and China’s Nanchang Mayor Wan Guangming signed a memorandum to establish bilateral relations and develop friendly cooperation between the two cities, Kutaisi city hall reported on August 15.
“We started our relationship with Nanchang in 2015 and today we officially formalized our friendship. Our goal is to promote economic and trade relations between the two cities, cooperation in economy, trade, science, technology, culture, education, sports, healthcare, and tourism fields,” Khakhaleishvili said.
The Mayor of Kutaisi said that they had many things in common, including the fact that Nanchang was also developing as a university city.
Armenia is looking forward to further developing relations with China, Armenian scholar writes in China Daily
On August 15, the chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies in Yerevan, Benyamin Poghosyan published a pro-Beijing article in the Chinese state controlled newspaper China Daily entitled ‘Giant strides – China confidently presses ahead on the path toward national rejuvenation’.
At the end of the article he added that “as an ancient nation that analyzes its past to pave the way for the future”, Armenia was looking forward to further developing relations with China and learning from “China’s successful development experience to boost its development according to Armenian national conditions”.
Armenian Chinese Partnership Center considers BRI “very important”
The Sixth Silk Road International Exposition opened in Xi’an, China with deeper Belt and Road cooperation high on the agenda, Xinhua reported on August 15. At the expo’s international pavilion, the Vice President of the Armenian Chinese Partnership Center, Davit Mkhitaryan, said that the Belt and Road Initiative was very important to them. “I hope that by participating in the expo, more people will learn about Armenia and visit Armenia,” he added.