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)


14.12.2020 – 20.12.2020

Armenian Economy Minister invited Chinese companies to participate in the investment programs in Armenia


Armenia’s Minister of Economy, Vahan Kerobyan met with the new Chinese Ambassador to Armenia, Fan Yong.

Kerobyan spoke about the importance of the formation of an updated agenda for mutually beneficial partnership and outlining a roadmap for its implementation, the reported on December 16. He also invited Chinese companies to participate in the implementation of investment programs in Armenia and offered to establish a joint industry in Armenia to sell products in the markets of the Eurasian Economic Union and Iran.

The Minister also informed the Ambassador that from January 2021, Armenia will ban imports of Turkish products. According to the, the Chinese party will be provided with the list of mentioned goods so Chinese companies can study them and submit their recommendations to import similar products into Armenia.

The two sides also discussed the deepening of future cooperation in the tourism sector and attached importance to the need to organize direct flights between the two countries.

The Chinese Ambassador stated that the trade and economic relations are built on a good foundation and there is great potential for the development of those relations.

The Ambassador appreciated Armenia’s positive attitude towards the development of pragmatic cooperation between the two countries”, and said that China was willing to work with Armenia “to expand bilateral economic and trade cooperation and expand infrastructure construction, high technology, etc. within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative”.


Georgian Ambassador met with the representative of a Chinese Ministry

The Ambassador of Georgia to China, Archil Kalandia met with Xie Jining, the Director-General of the Department of International Exchanges and Cooperation in China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Source: Embassy of Georgia to the People’s Republic of China

On December 18, the Ambassador of Georgia to China, Archil Kalandia met with Xie Jining, the Director-General of the Department of International Exchanges and Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed cooperation in the field of culture and tourism.

“The importance of implementing joint projects in the post-pandemic period was emphasized, which will help to popularize Georgian culture in China”, the Embassy of Georgia to the People’s Republic of China reported on December 18.

“The great potential for cooperation” in the tourism sector and “the need to intensify coordinated work” in this regard were also noted.

At the meeting, the sides also planned the agenda for the year 2021.


Armenian University’s think tank announced the discussion about the Belt and Road Initiative

Armenian State University of Economics (ASUE) reported that the University’s AMBERD Research Center announced a public discussion within the framework of the research topic “Perspectives of Armenia-China Economic Cooperation within the framework of ‘One Belt, One Road’ project”, to take place on December 16.

“The representatives of ASUE teaching staff, students, external-internal stakeholders, persons interested in the issues of the sphere can take part in the discussion”, the statement said.

According to AMBERD, it is one of the leading think tanks in Armenia.


Wine bottles with labels of Stalin appeared at Georgian pavilion in China

Source: Belt and Road Georgian Business House/Screenshot

On December 15, the Belt and Road Georgian Business House shared a video about the Georgian pavilion at the Guangdong 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo in China.

The video shows that the Georgian pavilion presents wines in different bottles, including a bottle with “STALIN” written on it and a portrait of the Soviet totalitarian dictator.

Bekar Mikaberidze, the founder of Belt and Road Georgian Business House and an official representative of the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Province of Guangdong of the People’s Republic of China and Salome Tsikhiselia, the founder of the Belt and Road Georgian Business House Cultural Exchange Center can also be seen in the video footage.

Josef Stalin is a highly problematic figure in Georgia where many consider him a criminal who was highly hostile to Georgia despite his local ethnic roots.


Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan held a meeting with the CEO of Azerbaijan’s Nizami Ganjavi International Center

On December 15, Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Guo Min held an online meeting with Elnur Aliyev, the CEO of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, and exchanged views on “the traditional friendly contacts” between the two sides and future cooperation plans.

Guo Min said that the Nizami Ganjavi International Center has established a regular cooperation mechanism with a number of cultural and academic institutions in China, has repeatedly invited the Chinese delegation to attend the Baku Global Forum in Azerbaijan, and held regular online and offline academic seminars.

According to the Embassy of China in Azerbaijan, in recent years, the center has been in close cooperation with various Chinese institutions and has jointly organized many international exchange activities, achieving “fruitful results”. The center attached great importance to the development of relations with China and is willing to continue to work closely with China to actively promote people-to-people exchanges and cooperation between Azerbaijan and China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

According to the Embassy, since the outbreak of the pandemic in China the board of directors of the Center sent letters to Xi Jinping to express their condolences and donated batches of anti-epidemic medical supplies to China, invited its members to shoot promotional videos “to firmly support China’s fight against the pandemic”.

The Embassy of China said it is willing to continue deepening its close cooperation with the Nizami Ganjavi International Center and promote the participation of China’s high-level delegations to the Baku Global Forum.

“We will invite more Chinese academic and cultural institutions to establish contacts with the center, open up extensive cooperation channels, and promote various forms of cooperation. We will further promote people-to-people exchanges between China and Azerbaijan, uphold the concept of openness, inclusiveness, exchanges, and mutual learning, and jointly build a peaceful, harmonious, and beautiful world and a community of shared future for mankind.” – The Embassy of China in Azerbaijan wrote.

Elnur Aliyev said that the Center of Nizami Ganjavi is an international academic and cultural exchange center established at the personal initiative of President Ilham Aliyev. According to Nizami Ganjavi International Center’s website, it is “a cultural, non-profit, non-political organization dedicated to the memory of great Azerbaijani poet, Nizami Ganjavi and to the study and dissemination of his works with a mission to build a dialogue and understanding between cultures and peoples for building functional and inclusive societies”.


Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister: Deepening the cooperation with China is one of Armenia’s foreign policy priorities

Ambassador of China to Armenia Fan Yong and Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia Avet Adonts. Source: MFA of Armenia

On December 17, Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia Avet Adonts held a meeting with Ambassador of China to Armenia Fan Yong.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, during the meeting, the parties discussed issues on the bilateral agenda and the situation in the region.

The Ministry noted that issues of regional security and stability were touched upon.

Avet Adonts said that deepening the cooperation with China is one of the priorities of the foreign policy of Armenia, and that “the parties effectively cooperate within the framework of international organizations”.

The Ministry emphasized that Armenia has always supported China’s implementation of the “One-China Policy”.

The two sides also discussed enriching the bilateral agenda, intensifying the existing dialogue, as well as the steps to continue the joint work in trade, investment, technical and economic spheres.


Georgian representative attended an event organized by a Chinese think tank

Source: Facebook/Jemal Putkaradze

The International Forum on Sharing Poverty Reduction Experience was held in Beijing on December 14-16.

An adviser to the Georgian Minister of Agriculture and the director of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences-Georgian Technical University, Research Institute of China Studies, Jemal Putkaradze took part in the event.

Sponsors of the event were China’s State Council’s Information Office and China’s State Council’s Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.

According to the Chinese state media, General Secretary Xi Jinping sent a letter to the Forum – “Xi said he hoped that participants of the forum could conduct in-depth communications on poverty reduction experiences, reach broad consensus, and build up more confidence to accelerate the process of international poverty reduction”.

Xinhua said that the forum was attended by “over 200 representatives from more than 60 countries and regions”.


The Roads Department of Georgia signed another contract with a Chinese company

Deputy Chairman of the Roads Department of Georgia, Alexander Tevdoradze and a representative of Sinohydro, He Pen. Source: China Daily/POWERCHINA

According to the Roads Department of Georgia, on December 16, a contract was signed with Chinese company Sinohydro (POWERCHINA) – the winner company of the international tender announced for the upgrade of the second section of the Zemo Osiauri-Chumateleti road, a part of the East-West E60 highway.

The Roads Department of Georgia reported that the project, worth GEL 264 992 488, is financed by the World Bank.

The contract was signed by the Deputy Chairman of the Roads Department of Georgia Alexander Tevdoradze and a representative of Sinohydro He Pen.

According to Chinese state media, it is the 10th expressway project that POWERCHINA won in the past 10 years after entering the Georgian market in 2010, “further enhancing the company’s brand influence and visibility in the local transportation infrastructure field”.

“It will further become an important channel for China and Georgia to carry out in-depth Belt and Road cooperation”, – China Daily wrote.


Diplomats from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia met with a Chinese province representative

Source: MFA of China

From December 15 to December 17, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China organized a visit of the diplomatic missions from countries in Europe and Asia to China’s Guizhou Province for exchanges and inspections – China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported on December 18.

Envoys and diplomats to China from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, the Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Assistant Minister of Foreign Ministry Le Yucheng attended the activities.

Member of the Standing Committee of the Guizhou Provincial Party Committee and the Minister of the Propaganda Department of the Provincial Party Committee Lu Yongzheng met with the envoy delegation.

Lu Yongzheng expressed the hope that the envoys of the countries in the Eurasian region would promote exchanges between their countries and Guizhou, as well as cooperation in the new inland sea channel within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, and in economy, trade, industry, culture, tourism and education.

According to the information shared by the Chinese MFA, the diplomats expressed their willingness “to push their country to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with Guizhou in the fields of big data, education, tourism, the youth and others, and promote bilateral and multilateral pragmatic cooperation to a new level”.


21.12.2020 – 27.12.2020

China is still Georgia’s largest trading partner by exports

In January-November 2020, China topped the list of largest trading partners by exports with $ 445.9 million, reported on December 21.

China remained Georgia’s third-largest trading partner with $ 1.09 billion in January-November.

China is also the third top trading partner of Georgia in terms of imports with $ 646.3 million.


Xi Jinping to Aliyev: Our mutual political trust is strengthening day by day

On December 23, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, wrote a congratulatory letter on the occasion of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev’s birthday.

Xi noted that China-Azerbaijan relations have been developing dynamically over the recent years and said that mutual political trust was strengthening day by day.

“Bilateral cooperation between the two countries as part of the ‘Belt and Road’ project, as well as interaction on the international arena is developing successfully and effectively”, Xi said.

General Secretary Xi wrote that since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, China and Azerbaijan have been “sincerely supporting each other demonstrating firm friendship between the two nations”.

As he said, he attaches great importance to the development of China-Azerbaijan relations.

“I am ready to continue making joint efforts together with you in order to deepen the bilateral ties of friendship and cooperation, mutually beneficial partnership in various areas to the benefit of our two countries and nations,”, Xi Jinping wrote.


Cargo plane from China carries oxygen production plants, concentrators to Armenia

A cargo plane from China will transport four large oxygen production stations and other equipment for medical centers, Armradio reported on December 26 – this includes 94 individual oxygen concentrators, 100 000 Covid-19 diagnostic tests, 200 000 sampling sticks, masks, and clothes.

Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan said that the plane would land in Yerevan on December 27.

According to Armradio, twelve oxygen production stations have already been installed in the country’s medical centers in 2020, four of which were transported to Armenia by a cargo plane a week ago.


Georgian envoy discussed further development of cooperation between Georgia and China

The envoy of Georgian Embassy, David Pipinashvili. Source: The Embassy of Georgia to the People’s Republic of China

On December 25-26, in the city of Sanya, China’s Hainan Province, the Envoy of Georgian Embassy David Pipinashvili together with the First Secretary of the Georgian Embassy Shota Abuladze, participated in the 5th China Sanya International Cultural Industry Fair 2020 and the Free Trade Port Forum – New Cultural Drivers. According to the Embassy of Georgia to the People’s Republic of China, along with the municipal and party leadership of the city, representatives of business circles and the diplomatic corps also attended the event.

At the forum, Davit Pipinashvili spoke about Georgia-China bilateral relations, further development of cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, transport, logistics, tourism and culture.

“He emphasized that the Hainan Free Trade Port, which focuses on trade and investment liberalization, is one of the key links in China’s integration into the global economic system”, – the Embassy of Georgia in China wrote. The Embassy said that, in this context, he emphasized the great importance of port and transport infrastructure of a maritime country and free industrial zones, as well as the more active involvement of Georgia in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Georgian representatives held a meeting with the Mayor of the Sanya Municipal People’s Government, Bao Hongwen. The two sides discussed specific areas and plans for cooperation.


Director of Georgia’s Infectious Diseases Center comments on the Chinese vaccines

Director General of Georgia’s Infectious Diseases, AIDS and Clinical Immunology Center, Tengiz Tsertsvadze commented on the reliability of Chinese vaccines.

“In any case, Georgia will get a good vaccine. There is a very important difference… [Some countries] are not very reliable. But China is reliable, the coronavirus came from China and they have vast knowledge, while India – not so much, it has not followed the same standards, control and research as Pfizer and Moderna”, – the First Channel of Georgia reported Tsertsvadze saying on December 21.

Georgian and Chinese universities held a conference about BRI

On December 24, the China Research Institute of the Georgian Technical University’s Faculty of Law and International Relations in collaboration with the Chinese Lanzhou University Research Center held an online international academic conference – “Cultural Aspects of the Belt and Road Initiative”.

According to the Georgian university’s statement, at the event, the Ambassador of Georgia to China Archil Kalandia delivered “an interesting speech”. Researchers of Lanzhou University, GTU professors and students attended the conference.


28.12.2020 – 3.1.2021

Georgian university partners with a university in Xinjiang to open another Confucius Institute

On December 28, according to the statement shared by the Kutaisi University (UNIK), the Chinese International Education Foundation approved a joint initiative of a Chinese university – the Xinjiang Medical University – and the UNIK to establish a UNIK-based Confucius Institute by September 2021.

“The Confucius Institute will offer UNIK students an opportunity to learn the Chinese language, participate in the educational exchange programs and get acquainted with the Chinese culture”, the statement said.

The UNIK noted that the Chinese International Education Foundation expressed its readiness to provide the Kutaisi University with “the material and human resources and offers technical assistance for the successful work of the Confucius Institute and its development”.

According to the statement, “the International Relations Office and the top-management of the Kutaisi University are pleased to contribute to the deepening of the cultural and economic ties between Georgia and the People’s Republic of China”.


Chinese Ambassador to Georgia: China is ready to make joint plans with other countries for “a community with a shared future for mankind”

On December 28, China’s Ambassador to Georgia Li Yan published an article in the Gtradio media outlet. She discussed a number of topics, including one of the recent speeches by Xi Jinping.

The Ambassador claimed that “as a result of the united and tireless efforts of the whole country, China is the first one that has effectively stopped the epidemic and achieved significant intermediate and strategic results in terms of epidemic prevention and control”.

She noted that “with cooperation with other countries, China is ready to meet the future, to find a more harmonious path of development with them, and to make joint plans for “a community with a shared future for mankind”.


Chinese Ambassador: China is pleased with the results of this year’s cooperation between China and Georgia

On December 30, in an interview with a Georgian news agency, Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Li Yan discussed China-Georgia relations. According to her, China is pleased with the development of bilateral relations with Georgia and the results of this year’s cooperation in various fields.

Talking about China-Georgia bilateral relations, Li Yan said that despite the pandemic the two countries maintained close communication and active coordination: “Despite the epidemic and trade protectionism, bilateral trade between China and Georgia was successful and despite a general downward trend, has even increased”.

She stressed that in 2021, China is ready to continue working with the Georgian side to strengthen political ties and coordination, to deepen and expand the areas of cooperation, and to achieve new results in the development of China-Georgia relations, “so that the people of the two countries can see more benefits.”


Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan held another online event

On January 3, an Azerbaijani news agency reported that on December 23, the Confucius Institute at the Azerbaijani University of Languages held an online seminar about the Winter Solstice festival, which is referred to as “a traditional Chinese festival”.

Rafiq Abbasov, the director of the Confucius Institute’s Azerbaijan branch, spoke about “China’s lunar calendar, Winter Solstice” and its philosophical and historical meaning.

Students and teachers from the Confucius Institute participated in the event.


Mainland China, Hong Kong among the largest exporters of laptops to Georgia

In January-November 2020, Georgia purchased laptops worth $33.928 million, reported on December 30.

In this period of time, mainland China was the largest exporter of laptops to Georgia ($13.4491 million) while Hong Kong was the fourth-largest one ($3.389 million).


Confucius Institute in Armenia summarizes the events of 2020

On December 28, Confucius Institute in the Yerevan State Linguistic University (YSLU) shared information about the events that were held during 2020, including Chinese Bridge Language Proficiency Competition, paper cutting masterclass, and Chinese essays contest, among others.


Georgian Ministry of Economy considers the development of a transport route connecting China and Georgia

On December 28, Georgian Ministry of Economy published the National Transport and Logistics Strategy of Georgia for 2021-2030.

According to the document, significant new initiatives are the Middle and the Southwest Corridors. Trans-Caspian International Transport Route or the Middle Corridor “provides the shipment of goods from China to Europe and backwards through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia”.

“It should be noted that through the Middle Corridor the number of container shipments from China to Georgia and Europe has increased sharply. In 2019 it amounted to 2,774 TEU, which is 107.3% more than in 2018”, – said the Ministry.

Container shipments (TEU) from China to Georgia and Europe through the Middle Corridor (2015-2019) Source: Georgian Ministry of Economy/Georgian Railway

The Ministry of Economy noted that the first rail freight shipping from China through the Middle Corridor took place in 2015. The most shipments come from the Chinese cities of Urumqi (the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), Xi’an and Lianyungang.

The Ministry considers the development of the Middle Corridor and other transport routes to Georgia.

According to the document, EU trade with the South Caucasus, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and China amounts to 156 million tones, about 9 million containers – “rail shipments between Europe and China account for 1% of the rail traffic through the Northern Corridor (China-Russia-EU) and it is growing. In the short term, it is possible to attract at least 90 000 containers through the Georgian territory from the abovementioned turnover, by 2026 this number may increase to 220 000 containers”.


4.1.2021 – 10.1.2021

Chinese Ambassador to Armenia urged teachers and students to promote China-Armenia friendship

Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong. Source: Hanban

On December 23, the 3rd Chinese Language Teaching and Learning Award Ceremony of the Chinese Embassy in Armenia was held online, the Beijing-sponsored Hanban (Confucius Institute Headquarters) reported on January 7.

The event was hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Armenia. It was organized by the Confucius Institute at the Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences. The head of the Foreign Relations and Diaspora Department at the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia Arkadi Papoyan, Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong, the director of the Confucius Institute’s Armenian branch Gor Sargsyan, and the director from Chinese side Wang Chanjuan attended the event.

Fan Yong said that in recent years “with the two countries’ joint efforts, support and promotion” the Chinese language teaching in Armenia was improving.

According to Hanban, the Ambassador “affirmed the significant role” played by the Confucius Institute and the China-Armenia Friendship School.

Fan Yong “urged teachers and students to… strive to be the builders and promoters of China-Armenia friendship”.

Papoyan said that in recent years, China and Armenia have had highly effective cooperation in the fields of education, science and culture.

“The Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia integrated Chinese into the national education system and organized the training and other activities for local teachers in Armenia together with the Confucius Institute” – Hanban wrote.

The heads of schools offering Chinese courses such as Yerevan National University, Slavic University, Chinese-Armenian Friendship School, Anton Chekhov School, Chamlian School – nearly 100 people, including teachers and students – attended the event.


Tsertsvadze: Purchasing of AstraZeneca and the Chinese vaccines seems realistic

On January 10, Georgia’s Director General of Infectious Diseases Tengiz Tsertsvadze said that Georgia was working on importing practically all vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna, Oxford and, among others, the Chinese vaccines.

He said that there were negotiations in every direction “but the purchasing of these two vaccines seems the most realistic – these are: AstraZeneca and one of the Chinese vaccines”.


Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan held another event

On December 29, the Confucius Institute at the Azerbaijani University of Languages held an online student discussion about orchids, cultural contrast of Chinese bird-and-flower painting and discussed the symbols in Azerbaijan and Chinese traditional culture, Azertac reported on January 8.