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)
11.1.2021 – 17.1.2021
US Under Secretary of State discussed Chinese threat in 5G while taking about US-Georgia 5G security MOU
On January 14, in an interview with US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, Keith Krach, a journalist asked him about the meaning of the US-Georgia 5G security memorandum of understanding. Krach answered that it is a comprehensive approach to long-term data, human rights and security that builds cooperation against threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party, Russia, and “other abusive countries”.
Krach noted that in the 5G contest, its purpose is to use only trusted suppliers, not companies that are from countries where data protection is linked to the National Intelligence Act, as it is in China. Krach emphasized that the Chinese government obligates any Chinese company, whether it is state-owned or privately owned, to transfer data, information, technology or intellectual property to the Communist Party upon request.
Krach said that 5G technology is very important for Georgia’s national security. “Suppliers of this technology will have all the keys and the issue is mostly about trust. This decision ultimately has to do not with technology, but with trust”. He added: “Do you trust two Scandinavian companies, such as Nokia and Ericsson, or Chinese companies, such as Huawei and ZTE?”
VOA journalists noted that according to media reports, about 200 tablets in the Parliament of Georgia are running on Huawei technology and asked what will happen to this existing Chinese infrastructure when Georgia starts fulfilling the conditions of the memorandum. Krach stated that the situation was not different in Belgium, where NATO and EU headquarters are located – “They used Huawei in many areas. One day they realized that they had to get rid of the Huawei equipment. This is not unique for Georgia either”.
On the question where is Georgia in the technological competition and the cold war between US and China, Krach answered that it was a confrontation between US and China, and authoritarianism and freedom, adding: “The Chinese Communist Party is a threat to democracies around the world. This can be seen while analyzing the Belt and Road Initiative, they are tracking everyone not only in China but all around the world. They create dictators using not only the technology but also money”.
Chinese Ambassador: China will continue to deepen friendly cooperation between China and Armenia
On January 15, the Ambassador of China to Armenia, Fan Yong, published an article in an Armenian magazine: “Deepening China-Armenia cooperation and collaborating to build a new development pattern”.
According to the Foreign Ministry of China, Fan noted that after the pandemic China would continue to deepen the friendly cooperation between China and Armenia, strengthen innovation and leadership, and encourage companies and institutions of the two countries to strengthen cooperation in infrastructure construction, development of mineral products, artificial intelligence, healthcare, e-commerce, cultural tourism and other fields. Also, to explore the possibility of opening direct flights or shipments and financial cooperation between the two countries, and “to upgrade the facilitation level of trade and personnel exchanges”.
Azerbaijan will vaccinate its population with a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine
Azerbaijan was set to begin vaccinating its population against Covid-19 using a vaccine developed by China, Reuters reported on January 15.
Spokesman of the Azerbaijani government, Ibrahim Mammadov, did not disclose which Chinese vaccine would be used but said that it would be the same one as Turkey had acquired. Turkey is using a vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Xi Jinping wished President of Armenia a speedy recovery from Covid-19
General Secretary Xi Jinping sent a letter to the President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian, an Armenian news agency reported on January 12. According to Armradio, on behalf of his wife, Peng Liyuan, and himself, he wished a speedy recovery to President Sarkissian and Mrs Nune Sarkissian.
Turkey’s second export train passing through BTK railway has arrived in China
The second container train carrying freight from Turkey to China, consisting of 42 containers, each 40 feet long, arrived in Xi’an – ADY Container reported on January 16.
The transportation was carried out in 16 days.
The train was operating on Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, passing Akhalkalaki station in Georgia, then moving from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan via the Caspian Sea, and from there to the Chinese city of Xi’an.
Director of Georgia’s Infectious Diseases Center: I have not recommended the import of Chinese vaccine
On January 11, Director-General of Georgia’s Infectious Diseases, AIDS and Clinical Immunology Center, Tengiz Tsertsvadze, said that he had not recommended the import of Chinese vaccine.
On Chinese vaccine, Tsertsvadze noted that it may be no less effective than other vaccines, like AstraZeneca – “Which is supported by the fact that this vaccine is used to vaccinate the population in China and this vaccine has been purchased by countries such as Turkey, UAE, Brazil and others. But I repeat that I have not recommended the purchase of this vaccine,” Tserdzvadze said.
18.1.2021 – 24.1.2021
China was Georgia’s top trading partner by exports in 2020
In 2020, Georgia’s exports to China amounted to $476.3 million – 14.3% of the country’s total exports and an increase of 113.4% compared to 2019 when this number was $223.1 million, constituting a share of 5.9%.
China was Georgia’s third-largest overall trading partner ($1.18 billion) which was 10.4% of the total turnover.
China was also Georgia’s third-largest trading partner by imports with $708.7 million (8.9% of total imports).
It is noteworthy that Georgia exported to China 266 341.4 tons of copper ores and concentrates that amounted to $393.6 million.
China is Azerbaijan’s fourth-largest trading partner
China is Azerbaijan’s fourth-largest trading partner – its trade turnover with China reached $1.8 billion, an Azerbaijani news agency reported on January 21.
According to MENAFN, China was Azerbaijan’s third-largest trading partner by imports during the first ten months of 2020 with $1.4 billion.
“Safest and effective” – Azerbaijan presidential aide about Chinese vaccines
“Azerbaijan got the safest and effective vaccine” – said presidential aide Shahmar Movsumov according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, “as he praised the China-made jab at the briefing”.
The health Minister of Azerbaijan noted that the country would begin vaccinating citizens against Covid-19 on January 18, using a batch of 4 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Movsumov said that medical workers would vaccinate first, and then people over the age of 65, from February 1.
Azerbaijan Health Minister vaccinated with Chinese vaccine
On January 18, Chinese state media reported that Azerbaijan’s Health Minister and other officials were vaccinated with Chinese vaccines.
“Azerbaijani Health Minister Ogtay Shiraliyev and his deputies, as well as other health officials, were among the first to be vaccinated by what Shahmar Movsumov, an assistant to the president of Azerbaijan, earlier described as ’the safest and effective vaccine’ procured by Azerbaijan” – Chinese State media reported.
The Embassy of Georgia in China donated anti-Covid-19 medical products to several Chinese schools
Source: The Embassy of Georgia to China/Facebook
The Embassy of Georgia in China donated anti-Covid-19 medical products to several public schools in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China. Medical products included face masks, hand sanitizers, thermal screening devices and others, the Embassy reported on January 21.
Georgian Health Minister on Chinese vaccine: If it is in the list of safe, effective vaccines, we will make a decision
On January 21 Health Minister of Georgia Ekaterine Tikaradze said that if Chinese vaccine were on the list of safe and effective vaccines, then they would decide what to do about it:
“I would like to clarify that we will only import the vaccine that will be recognized by the World Health Organization. At this stage the Chinese vaccine does not have a verified document to accept it as a valid vaccine. We will wait for the process and according to the common decision, if it is included in the list of safe and the most effective vaccines, then we will make the next decisions about the import of Chinese vaccines to Georgia. We are not discussing it at this stage”.
25.1.2021 – 31.1.2021
Li Yan: China is looking forward to the further development of China-Georgia relations
On January 27, an article written by the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia, Li Yan, was published in the “Rezonansi” newspaper. The Chinese side is looking forward to the further development of China-Georgia relations and stands ready to maintain high-level political ties with the Georgian side, Li Yan wrote in the article.
Li Yan emphasized that China-Georgia trade and economic cooperation had grown: “For the third year in a row, bilateral trade turnover has exceeded $1 billion. China not only maintains [the position of] Georgia’s third-largest trading partner but also has become the largest export market for Georgian products”. Ambassador wrote that the Chinese side is ready to increase the role of the free trade agreement together with the Georgian side.
The Ambassador claimed that Chinese companies in Georgia implement projects quickly, “showing a credible and responsible attitude”.
Li Yan wrote that bilateral cooperation in the field of education and culture was constantly growing and “the idea of China-Georgia friendship is winning the hearts of more people… The Chinese side is ready to further deepen cooperation between China and Georgia in the field of education and culture”.
The Chinese side is ready to continue the Belt and Road cooperation with the Georgian side under the principle of “joint discussing, joint construction and mutual benefit”, Li Yan wrote.
“China supports Chinese companies to be actively involved in the development of various industries in Georgia to contribute to the post-pandemic period in the process of restoring the Georgian economy and forming Georgia as a transport and transit corridor.” – Li noted.
As Li Yan wrote, in 2021, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese Embassy in Georgia plans to hold several events.
“We will show the unusual road of development of China in different ways and will better introduce China and the Chinese Communist Party to the Georgian society” – Li Yan wrote.
Chinese Ambassador: China will further strengthen China-Georgia friendly relations
On January 27, in an interview with Georgian news agency News Day, Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Li Yan talked about Covid-19 situation in China, WHO’s visit in Wuhan and also mentioned Georgia-China relations.
The Ambassador praised “effective measures taken by the Government of Georgia to prevent and control the epidemic”.
“China actively shares its experience of prevention and control [of the Covid pandemic] with the Georgian side. China has donated medical supplies and equipment to Georgia. China operates according to the concept of the community with shared future for mankind”, said the Ambassador,
The Ambassador noted that China would continue to help Georgia in various ways in the fight against the pandemic and “further strengthen China-Georgia friendly relations”.
Cargo train from China’s Shandong province departed for Azerbaijan
Source: Global Times
On January 31, the first “Qilu” train which is operated by state-owned Shandong Hi-Speed Group Corporation departed from Qingdao, in east China’s Shandong province, to Baku, Azerbaijan – the government of Jinan city (capital of Shandong province) reported.
The train was mainly loaded with tires, air conditioners and other goods and materials, with a total of 100 TEUs.
The goods were to be allocated to Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, Romania, Italy and other countries.
FDI from China to Georgia declining
Foreign direct investment from China to Georgia is declining. In the three quarters of 2020, FDI from China was just $3 million, bm.ge reported on January 31. In the last five years, the largest investment flow from China was in 2018 – $75.8 million. In 2017, FDI from China was $19.4 million and in 2019 – $43.8 million.
According to information provided by the National Statistic Office of Georgia to bm.ge, Chinese invested most in the construction and the manufacturing industries, as well as in the financial sector.
Georgian Business House: Local government of Guangzhou supports our projects
Source: Georgian Business House/Facebook
On January 28, the Belt and Road Georgian Business House reported that at the invitation of the Guangzhou Municipal Party Committee and the City Hall, the member countries of the Belt and Road Georgian Business House organized an exhibition of their products.
Georgian, Iranian and New Zealand imported products were presented at the exhibition.
The exhibition was organized at the initiative and invitation of the Secretary of Guangzhou Municipal Party Committee, Mayor of Guangzhou, with the support of the Director of the Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Commerce, the heads of the Yuexiu District Trade Bureau and the administration of One Link Plaza.
According to the Georgian Business House, the local government of Guangzhou supports all its projects “to strengthen China-Georgia trade and business relations, unite the new Silk Road countries under one platform, establish close business trade relations, popularize Georgian products, culture and tourism in China.“
Georgian Huashun International Industrial Investment Group is the top Chinese investor in Georgia
In the first nine months of 2020, Georgian Huashun International Industrial Investment Group was the top Chinese investor in Georgia, bm.ge reported on January 31.
Top 10 investors from China in the first nine months of 2020 were:
1. Georgian Huashun International Industrial Investment Group Ltd;
2. Elegant Ltd;
3. G.C. Ltd;
4. V.G.H. Georgia Investments Ltd;
5. Huntangyuan International Holding Group;
6. Shunxiang Wood Processing Company Kutaisi FEZ Ltd;
7. Green road Georgia Ltd;
8. Rustavi Steel Corporation Company Ltd;
9. Georgia General Service Company Ltd;
10. Lazeti Tobacco Ltd.
It is also noteworthy that registration of new Chinese companies in Georgia was growing in 2017-2019: 2017 – 125, 2018 – 133, 2019 – 178. In 2020, however, only 52 Chinese enterprises were registered in Georgia.
Azerbaijan to present its wine products at the international exhibition in China
President of the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO), Yusif Abdullayev said that Azerbaijani wine products would be presented at the China Food & Drinks Fair in China on March 21-27, 2021, news.az reported.
Top exporting Georgian companies in China
Top exporting Georgian companies in China are mostly wine and metallurgy companies, bm.ge reported on January 31.
The top 10 Georgian exporters to China according the information gained by bm.ge are: Lebometali, Lebometal, Dugladze Wine Company, Winery Khareba, Jibe, International medical technologies, RMG Copper, Caucasian Metals Terminal, Telavi Wine Cellar and Gold Dafna.
Chinese film screening at the Confucius Institute in Armenia
On January 25, the Confucius Institute in the Yerevan State Linguistic University (YSLU) announced the launch of Chinese films’ online screening: “Celebrating the beginning of spring – China film festival and film review competition”.
1.2.2021 – 7.2.2021
Armenian parliamentary speaker praises the combination of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union
Fan Yong and Ararat Mirzoyan. Source: 中华人民共和国外交部
On February 5, Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan met with Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong, MFA of China reported on February 5.
“Two sides spoke of the healthy and steady development of bilateral relations between China and Armenia, they believe that parliamentary cooperation is an important part of bilateral relations and are willing to work together to further deepen the friendly exchanges and cooperation between the legislative bodies of the two countries” – MFA of China noted.
Regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, “both sides underlined the readiness of Armenia to immediately resume the negotiations in the format of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, to discuss all necessary principles for the settlement of the problem. In this respect, the balanced position of China for the establishment of the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and lasting peace was highlighted” – an Armenian news agency reported.
Ambassador Yong noted that China welcomed the trilateral statement on ceasefire, attached importance to its implementation and was aware of the humanitarian issues. Armenian news agency wrote that he underscored China’s support for the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Talking about the strengthening of Armenian-Chinese trade and economic cooperation, Mirzoyan emphasized the combination of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union.
China was Armenia’s second-largest trading partner in 2020
In 2020, China was Armenia’s second-largest trading partner with a trade turnover of over $964 million, which was an increase of 2% compared to 2019, Armenpress reported on February 5.
Armenia’s overall foreign trade turnover in 2020 amounted to $7.1 billion – a decline of 13.2% compared to 2019.
Imnadze: Georgia could have a Chinese vaccine a long time ago
On February 1, the Deputy Head of Georgia’s National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, Paata Imnadze, said that Georgia could have a Chinese vaccine long time ago, but he thought that public reaction about this would not be positive.
“We could have the vaccine that our neighbour Turkey has been using for a long time, but you can imagine what could have happened here”, Imnadze said.
Talking about Chinese vaccines he said that other countries could discuss it, but “here you can imagine… Don’t you remember, what happened when we mentioned that [Chinese vaccine] could also be [an option]?”
Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan held a lesson for schoolchildren
Within the framework of the online project “Understanding China” and with the support of the Confucius Institute at the Azerbaijan University of Languages, Chinese language and culture classes have entered the classroom of the 42nd Middle School in Sumgait, Azertac reported on February 3.
The topic of the lesson was “Jade – king of gems”. Rafiq Abbasov, the director of the Confucius Institute’s Azerbaijan branch, said that jade was also known as a unique symbol in China.
Cultural project on Azerbaijan launched in China
Teaching and research section of the Azerbaijani language at the Beijing Foreign Studies University launched the “Nizami Legacy” project, Azertac reported on February 6.
The director of the teaching and research section said that the project included a series of activities.
“The purpose of this project is to introduce the Chinese people to the legacy of a great Azerbaijani poet and thinker Nizami Ganjavi”, and to study the role of his legacy in the literary exchange between China and Azerbaijan.
The director said that among other activities, this year academic and political papers on the legacy of Nizami Ganjavi would be published in Chinese.
Chinese students to take an internship in the Azerbaijani news agency
The students majoring in Azerbaijani language at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, will take an internship at the Azertac news agency, Azertac reported on February 3. They also expressed their wish to work at the agency as Chinese language translators in the coming years.
According to Azertac, during the internship, the students will translate the news spread in Azerbaijani language on the Azertac website in Chinese, as well as learn about the modern development of Azerbaijan and the culture of the Azerbaijani people.