|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)
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News from March 2023
Chinese state media targets Georgia’s Lugar Research Center
On March 3, the Chinese state media outlet Chinanews once again targeted Georgia’s Lugar Research Center.
“Russian media revealed that between 2015 and 2016, 73 volunteers died when the United States conducted drug testing at the Lugar Biological Laboratory controlled by Georgia.” the article claimed. Among other claims, it included the Soviet state official and Georgia’s former Minister of State Security (1993-1995) Igor Giorgadze’s disinformation about the Lugar center. This is not the first time when a Chinese state media outlet uses Giorgadze’s disinformation.
Georgian Technical University representatives met with Chinese representatives
According to Avtandil Kilnadze’s March 16 Facebook post on the Georgian Technical University’s Chinese Research Institute account, the Faculty of Law and International Relations of the Georgian Technical University was visited by the Chinese side Director of the Confucius Institute of Alte University Professor Wengang Chang, Beijing Tsinghua University Professor Shi Jing, and the Chinese language teacher of the Confucius Institute Guo Yanan. Reportedly, Avtandil Kiknadze is the head of the Russian-language undergraduate program of international relations of the faculty.
The dean of the faculty, Professor Irakli Gabisonia, introduced the faculty’s educational and scientific programs to the guests. “They talked about future cooperation plans, Chinese language courses at the faculty, and joint training programs,” the report said.
Kiknadze wrote that the meetings turned out to be “interesting and fruitful, plans for future cooperation were set”.
27.3.2023 – 9.4.2023
The nominee for the US Ambassador to Georgia says that US support helps Georgia be more resilient to China’s and Russia’s malign activities
On March 30, at the hearing of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the nominee for the post of US Ambassador to Georgia, Robin Dunnigan, said that the US support helps Georgia be more resilient to China’s and Russia’s malign activities.
She answered the question of Senator Pete Ricketts who asked Dunnigan about what can the US do to combat Russian influence: “We were talking about previously with Georgian Dream and of course the influence of Bidzina Ivanishvili… What can we do to combat the influence of what’s going on there with regards of what Russians are trying to do, pull Georgia closer to their sphere of influence?”
Robin Dunnigan answered: “I deeply believe that our support to continue Georgia on this path to build its democratic institutions, to strengthen its independent media, to straighten its judiciary – these are all of the sorts of steps that help strengthen the society and make it more resilient to Russian malign activities or the malign activities by the PRC. So the work we do with Georgia in terms of security cooperation, economic cooperation, trying to integrate Georgia with the west, […] – these are all of the steps that really do help cement Georgia’s future with the west and if confirmed, I would continue to make this a priority because I think it is essential.”
Chinese Ambassador: All countries, including Georgia, should think seriously about what path humanity should take
A photo from the press conference. Source: The Embassy of China in Georgia
On April 5, at a press conference, the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia, Zhou Qian made a speech, the Embassy of China in Georgia reported.
He talked about the Russo-Ukrainian War, which he calls the “Ukrainian crisis” and presented China’s stance. He also introduced Xi Jinping-proposed initiatives and discussed the Taiwan issue.
“Today there is an unstable situation in the world. More than a year has passed since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine… Hegemony and Cold War mentality influence the international order. The lack of peace, development, security, and governance has become the greatest challenge for humanity. Today the world stands at a crossroads. A choice must be made between peaceful development, war, chaos, and economic crisis. All countries, including Georgia, should think seriously about what path humanity should take. In response to the unstable situation in the world, the Chinese side presented a vision of global development. We must create an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world with lasting peace, universal security, and shared prosperity,” the Ambassador said.
The Chinese Ambassador also targeted the United States: “Some countries, led by the United States, are adding fuel to the fire as they continue to escalate the crisis through military aid, unilateral sanctions, and other means…”
He ended his speech by saying: “We are ready to bring more Chinese wisdom and Chinese vision to solve the common challenges facing humanity”.
Anti-US comments of Azerbaijan‘s National Assembly Member in Chinese state media
On April 2, the Chinese state media China Daily published content entitled “The United States uses ‘Democracy’ as a tool to interfere in other countries internal affairs – many countries’ public figures refuse the United States’ so-called ‘Summit for Democracy'”. The publication contained anti-American comments of Azerbaijan’s National Assembly member Bahruz Maharramov who criticized the US-initiated Summit for Democracy.
“Azerbaijan’s National Assembly member Bahruz Maharramov criticized the so-called ‘Summit for Democracy’ considering that the United States convened this ‘Summit’ as an attempt to use democracy as a tool to put pressure on countries that do not follow the will of the United States. He said that the United States does not care about democracy and human rights, but is accustomed to interfering in the internal politics of other countries in the name of democracy, creating chaos and instability, and manipulating other countries social and political processes,” the Chinese media wrote.
Young diplomats of the Chinese Embassy introduced Armenian students to the 20th National Congress of the CCP
A photo from the meeting. Source: The Chinese Embassy in Armenia
On March 30, young diplomats from the Chinese Embassy in Armenia went to Yerevan Brusov State University to introduce the students to “the spirit of the 20th All-Chinese Congress of the Chinese Communist Party”, the Chinese Embassy in Armenia reported.
The young diplomats also answered students’ questions about Chinese-Armenian cooperation and studies in China.
Azerbaijan Industrial Corporation, a Chinese Company discuss cooperation prospects
A photo from the meeting. Source: Azertac
A delegation of the Azerbaijan Industrial Corporation OJSC, Azeraluminium LLC, and a Chinese company CHALIECO discussed cooperation prospects, Azertac reported on April 8.
Reportedly, they focused on increasing the production capacity of the aluminum plant, and joint development of projects to be implemented concerning raw materials required for aluminum production.
The companies agreed on an action plan and decided to prepare certain information on these issues and hold new meetings.
Azertac wrote that CHALIECO was “one of the world’s leading companies in engineering and construction contracting and equipment manufacturing”.
Chinese and Georgian representatives discuss BRI cooperation
A photo from the meeting. Source: National Development and Reform Commission of China
On April 7, the Deputy Director of the International Department and the Head of the External Affairs Coordination and Promotion Group of the Leading Group Office for Promoting the Construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, Pan Jiang, met with the Georgian Ambassador to China Archil Kalandia and his delegation, the National Development and Reform Commission of China, a ministerial-level department of the State Council of China, reported.
The two sides exchanged opinions on issues of common concern such as deepening cooperation in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and strengthening “China-Georgia bilateral pragmatic cooperation”.
The Baku Higher Oil School of SOCAR and the China University of Petroleum discuss cooperation
A photo from the meeting. Source: Azertac
On April 4, Azertac reported that a delegation led by the Rector of the China University of Petroleum, Professor Chen Feng visited the Baku Higher Oil School of SOCAR (BHOS).
The BHOS Rector Elmar Gasimov spoke about the cooperation between the China University of Petroleum and the BHOS, noting that “this cooperation, carried out since 2018, is very successful and has great prospects.”
Gasimov noted that “successful cooperation” had been established between the leading Chinese IT company Huawei and the BHOS. “As part of the cooperation that began in 2019, the company donated laboratory equipment to BHOS that can be used for teaching and research purposes. Our students excelled in a number of competitions organized by the company and were awarded certificates and gifts as winners,” Gasimov said.
Chen Feng also talked about the cooperation and said that “China’s first University of Petroleum, founded in 1953”, was turning 70 this year and on this occasion, he invited Gasimov to the anniversary event, which takes place in Beijing. The BHOS Rector accepted the invitation.
At the end of the meeting, Chen Feng was presented with a plaque “Guest of Honor” of Baku Higher Oil School.
Baku Higher Oil School and the Chinese Embassy discuss cooperation
A photo from the meeting. Source: The Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan
On March 27, the Chinese Ambassador Guo Min visited the Baku Higher Oil School (BHOS), met Chinese students of the School, and held a meeting with the Rector of BHOS Elmar Gasimov, the Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan reported.
Gasimov stated that the traditional friendship between Azerbaijan and China was profound. Reportedly, BHOS is eager to further expand and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with Chinese partners.
Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan expressed willingness to actively assist in promoting the establishment of contacts and strengthening exchanges between BHOS and Chinese universities, think tanks, and scientific research institutions, and jointly promote the deepening of cooperation in education fields between the two countries.
Chinese Ambassador attended the opening ceremony of the special exhibition of Chinese art in Azerbaijan
A photo from the meeting. Source: The Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan
On March 29, the Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Guo Min attended the Opening Ceremony of the Special Exhibition of Chinese Art from the collection of the Azerbaijan National Museum of Art, the Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan reported. The Deputy Chairman of the New Azerbaijan Party – Head of the Central Office Tahir Budagov, the Deputy Minister of Culture Murad Huseynov, the Director of the Azerbaijan National Museum of Art Chingiz Farzaliyev, other high-level officials of the Azerbaijani government, and more than 200 people participated in the ceremony.
Guo Min addressed the participants. The Chinese Embassy reported that the Chinese side was willing to work with the Azerbaijani side to create a new situation of people-to-people and cultural exchanges, cultural integration, and people-to-people communication between the two countries, and to “make the world civilization garden colorful and full of vitality”.