CHINA WATCH

China’s Activities in the South Caucasus Issue 27, 15.11.2021 – 28.11.2021

ავტორი: 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)

  • Armenia and China sign agreement on Technical and Economic Cooperation
  • Trade representative from Azerbaijani Embassy in China spoke at the China Xinjiang Development Forum
  • Chinese state media spreads disinformation about the Russo-Georgian War of 2008
  • Former Georgian Defense Minister says Georgia’s political elites cooperate closely with controversial Chinese companies, raising concerns about corruption
  • In January-October 2021, China was Georgia’s third-largest trading partner
  • Azertac Board Chairman attended World Media Summit organized by Xinhua
  • Ambassador of Georgia to China considers the BRI very important

 

Read full publication:

15.11.2021 – 21.11.2021

In January-October 2021, China was Georgia’s third-largest trading partner

In January-October 2021, China remained Georgia’s third-largest trading partner - the turnover amounted to $ 1 225.8 million (10.8% of the total turnover), Geostat reported on November 19.

China also remained Georgia’s biggest trading partner by exports ($520.6 million) which was 15.3% of Georgia’s total exports. That was a growth of 24% compared to January-October 2020.  The top export item to China was copper ores and concentrates, which was 81.8% of Georgia’s total exports to China ($426.2 million).

China was also Georgia’s third-largest partner by import with $705.2 million (8.9% of total imports). Compared to January-October 2020, that was a growth of 23%.

 

Trade representative from the Azerbaijani Embassy in China spoke at the China Xinjiang Development Forum

2021 China Xinjiang Development Forum with the theme of jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative and Xinjiang Development was held, the Chinese news agency reported on November 16. According to the report, many foreign guests spoke at the forum about their personal experience of Xinjiang’s development and “responded to external bias and smears”.

Teymur Nadiroglu, the trade representative from Azerbaijani Embassy in China said that Xinjiang was an important farming and animal husbandry production place in China, and that Azerbaijan was an important market for high-quality agricultural products.  “Looking forward to Xinjiang investors and distributors to discuss commercial opportunities for cooperation”, Nadiroglu said according to the report.

 

Armenia and China sign agreement on Technical and Economic Cooperation

Fan Yong and Armen Ghevondyan. Source: 1lurer.am

On November 15, Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Armen Ghevondyan and the Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong signed an agreement on Technical and Economic Cooperation between the two governments.

According to an Armenian news agency report, the agreement envisages the provision of assistance by the Government of China in the framework of the implementation of the new broadcasting pavilion project for the Public Television of Armenia and “other mutually agreed projects”.

Armen Ghevondyan and Fan Yong praised the support of the Chinese Government in the field of technical and economic programs implemented in Armenia, and exchanged views on possible new programs.

Executive Director of the Public Television of Armenia Hovhannes Movsisyan also attended the signing ceremony.

 

Former Georgian Defense Minister says Georgia’s political elites cooperate closely with controversial Chinese companies, raising concerns about corruption

On November 16, Axios published an interview entitled Former Georgian Minister on Elite Corruption and China.

Former Georgian Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli said that Georgia’s political elites had cooperated closely with several controversial Chinese companies and raised new concerns about corruption in Georgia.

​​”The Georgia business scene is full of Chinese state companies that are very famous all over the world for their corrupt deals,” Khidasheli said.

According to Former Georgian Defense Minister, this occurs in part because the Georgian government has a serious revolving door problem, in which government officials award contracts to companies, and then join those companies when they leave government.

“The United States is Georgia’s premier strategic ally. While China and a handful of Chinese companies have been engaged with Georgia on trade and investment issues, China is not even among the top 10 investors in the country... What concerns us is the work ethics and business ethics that Chinese companies are bringing to Georgia, which are very similar to the ones brought from Russia,” Khidasheli added.

Tinatin Khidasheli noted it was “mainly bringing corrupt deals, bringing political involvement in private sectors”.

 

The Ambassador of Georgia to China considers the BRI very important

Photo from the interview. Source: news.ifeng.com

On November 17, the Ambassador of Georgia to China Archil Kalandia gave an interview to China’s Phoenix News media where he talked about Georgia-China relations. Kalandia said that the Belt and Road Initiative was one of the main directions in bilateral cooperation between Georgia and the People’s Republic of China.

“From the beginning, Georgia has been actively involved in this global initiative and Georgia was one of the first countries to sign a memorandum of cooperation with the Chinese side in 2015. Georgia has a very strategic location. We are located directly on a crossroad between Europe and Asia, it’s one of the shortest routes for trade and transportation, economic corridors from Asia to Europe and vice versa, and we would like to utilize our opportunities and our resources in the Belt and Road Initiative. We would like to position ourselves as a logistic, transport, transit and trade hub in the region,” the Ambassador said.

“We hope that in the near future in all official maps of the Belt and Road Initiative, one of the main economic corridors will go through Georgia in the South Caucasus region,” Archil Kalandia added.

Kalandia said that Georgia would also like to be a trade hub between the EU and the PRC: “We would like to offer the venue and in our free economic zones and free industrial zones of Georgia, we have a big perspective and opportunity to create joint ventures and to cooperate very actively in this direction”.

 

EurAsiaAz publishes article supporting Beijing Olympics

On November 16, EurAsiaAz published an article entitled “XXIV Winter Olympics 2022 - China is preparing to surprise everyone again”. The article was also posted on the website of China’s Embassy in Azerbaijan and it was noted that Seymur Mammadov, the director of the Eurasia-Azerbaijan (EurAsiaAz) international expert club and editor-in-chief of Azerbaijani news agency Baku Tribune wrote the article.

“There is no doubt that it will become unforgettable. How the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics became unforgettable. So, China is preparing to surprise everyone again. We are waiting impatiently,” the article said.

 

Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan Research Center at the Anhui University held an online lecture

The Confucius Institute at the Baku State University and the Azerbaijan Research Center at the Chinese Anhui University held a lecture on Traditional Poetry, Azertac reported on November 16.  

 

22.11.2021 – 28.11.2021

Chinese state media spreads disinformation about the Russo-Georgian War of 2008

On November 26, the Chinese state media outlet Global Times published an article entitled “Lithuania ‘could become isolated’ due to unwise provocation against China”. The article contained disinformation about the Russo-Georgian war: “Georgia challenged Russia in 2008 but received no help from the West at all when Russia launched a military retaliation”.

The Russo-Georgian War of 2008 began with the invasion of the territory of Georgia by the Russian armed forces.

 

The Georgian National Olympic Committee is looking forward to cooperation with Chinese counterparts

On November 23, the Chinese Xinhua news agency published an interview with the Vice-President of the Georgian National Olympic Committee, Mamuka Khabareli.

According to Khabareli, the Georgian Olympic Committee is very much looking forward to in-depth exchanges and cooperation with its Chinese counterparts, drawing lessons from China's useful experience in successfully hosting the Olympic Games, adding that it had pushed Georgia forward to have more progress in hosting large-scale international events.

He said that it was known that the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics achieved great success: “Because of this, people have reason to believe that the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will also be highly appraised by the international sports circles”.

Khabareli said he believed that the People’s Republic of China and China’s Olympic Committee would “surely be able to remarkably complete the task of hosting the Winter Olympics, just as China successfully responded to the new coronavirus epidemic.”

 

The Armenia-China Parliamentary Friendship Group and Chinese Ambassador discuss cooperation

Fan Yong, Gurgen Arsenyan, Hakob Arshakyan, Lena Nazaryan, Babken Tunyan. Source: 1lurer.am

On November 26, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, Head of the Armenia-China Parliamentary Friendship Group Hakob Arshakyan received the Chinese Ambassador Fan Yong, News.am reported.

Babken Tunyan, Lena Nazaryan from the My Step faction, and the head of the United Labour Party faction Gurgen Arsenyan also attended the meeting. They also are the members of the Friendship Group.

Arshakyan said that the Embassy of China in Armenia and the National Assembly cooperated effectively and “underscored the Ambassador’s unique role”.

“The Armenian-Chinese relations continue developing, there are opportunities of expanding the mutual trust and perception. Armenia is interested in deepening the bilateral relations in different spheres – political, economic and humanitarian,” the Deputy Speaker said.

According to the report, Fang Yong highly appreciates the level of political dialogue between Armenia and China and notes that it is necessary to intensify parliamentary cooperation, conducting frequent mutual visits.

Lena Nazaryan highlighted the importance of China’s support to Armenia during the Covid-19 pandemic. Gurgen Arsenyan discussed the need for the implementation of the educational, cultural programs and said it would give the opportunity to the two peoples to get acquainted with each other’s the cultural values. Babken Tunyan attached importance to the promotion of economic cooperation. He also discussed the need to increase volumes of the trade turnover between Armenia and China.

 

Armenia and China sign MOU on the mutual translation and publication of classic works

On November 25, the National Press and Publication Administration of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Armenia signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the mutual translation and publication of classics. The agreement was signed by Zhang Jianchun, the Propaganda Department of the CCP Deputy Minister and by Sergey Manasarian, Armenia’s Ambassador to China. According to the memorandum, the two sides agreed to jointly translate and publish 50 classical works of the two countries in the next five years.

 

Azertac Board Chairman attended World Media Summit organized by Xinhua

Aslan Aslanov attending the video conference. Source: Azertac

The fourth World Media Summit was held in a video conference format organized by China’s Xinhua News Agency in Beijing, China, Azertac reported on November 22. According to the report, representatives of more than 100 leading media outlets from around the world and several international organizations attended the conference. Azerbaijan State News Agency (Azertac) Chairman of Board Aslan Aslanov represented Azerbaijan at the event.

 

Chinese Ambassador publishes an article on a Georgian news agency website

On November 24, the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Li Yan published an article in NewsDay Georgia entitled “We are on a new path with the talent developed over a hundred years - we carry the intention of creating an ideal world in our hearts”.

On China-Georgia relations Li Ya wrote that Georgia, “as a supporter and participant in China initiated key international cooperation initiative”, was one of the first to respond to the Belt and Road Initiative and became the first country in the Eurasian region to have a free trade agreement with China. The Ambassador also wrote about China’s assistance to Georgia during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Li Yan discussed the sixth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and other issues, writing that while in the future, some countries would continue to try to impose their social system on others, the “so-called democratic model” always ended in failure.

“The Chinese Communist Party is pushing China to rise to the heights of history and epoch,” Li Yan continued, adding that considering the common interests of China, the world and the common welfare of all mankind, the CCP considered the creation of a “community with a shared future for mankind” as its duty and actively promoted a new type of international relations: “[It] tirelessly pursues the common values for all mankind, implements the Belt and Road Initiative with high quality, and leads the reform of the global governance system”.

 

Azerbaijani news agency publishes an interview with the Chinese Ambassador

On November 23, Vzglyad published an interview: “The CCP Central Committee Plenum Adopts Historic Resolution - Interview with Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan”.

While discussing the Belt and Road Initiative results, the Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Guo Min said: “The joint construction of Belt and Road [Initiative] is not a ’solo‘ of one China, but a ’choir‘ of different countries. China welcomes all countries of the world, including Azerbaijan, to participate in the joint construction of the BRI”.

The Ambassador discussed various issues related to the PRC including the sixth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, “the Resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century”, China’s view of democracy, and others.

“Democracy is not a patent of Western countries and cannot be defined exclusively by the West. The styles of democracy in different countries of the world cannot be the same,” Ambassador claimed.

 

Chinese holding company “reviving the tea culture” in Georgia

David Saganelidze. Source: The Partnership Fund

The Executive Director of the Partnership Fund of Georgia David Saganelidze and the Administrative Manager at Hantangyuan International Holding Group Giorgi Simongulashvili together with Mayor of Georgia’s Khoni Municipality Lado Jurkhadze held a meeting with locals about the tea development project and a new tea processing plant in Khoni, the Partnership Fund reported on November 26. 

“The investor, a Chinese holding company, with which the Partnership Fund has been implementing a Tea Rehabilitation Project for five years, is very successful in reviving the tea culture. They started from Tsalenjikha, continued through the Adjara region and now they have entered the Imereti region, and the same is planned for Ozurgeti. Over the next 15 years, as a result of the development of tea culture, we plan to attract up to half a billion in investment, which, along with the development of tea plantations, includes the construction of tea processing plants...” Saganelidze said.

He added that the plans also included opening up the Chinese market for tea culture, “as China perceives Georgia as the highest, premium quality producer country of tea”.

The Partnership Fund has been cooperating with Hantangyuan International Holding Group since 2016 on the Georgian Tea Rehabilitation Project. According to the report, the company has already invested more than $1 million and is cultivating up to 70 hectares of tea plantations.

 

The Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan held a seminar - “The Day of Chinese Dream”

On November 26, the Confucius Institute at the Azerbaijan University of Languages held a seminar with the theme of the National Day of China “The Day of Chinese Dream”.

Rafiq Abbasov, the Director of the Confucius Institute said that China and Azerbaijan had historically been linked by the Silk Road and in recent years it gained new impetus for the development of cooperation: “This is mainly due to Azerbaijan’s active participation in the implementation of China’s Belt and Road Initiative proposal, to create Eurasian traffic and economic corridors to ensure cultural exchanges, political exchanges and cultural dialogues among countries along the Silk Road”.

The Confucius Institute also held an awarding ceremony for the winners of the Chinese Dream and Peace essay contest.

 

The Editor-in-chief of NewsDay commented on Xi Jinping’s letter

On November 25, a Chinese news agency published comments of various individuals about the CCP Chairman’s Xi Jinping’s congratulatory letter on the fourth World Media Summit in Beijing. One of them was the editor-in-chief of news agency NewsDay Georgia Avtandil Otinashvili. He said that Xi Jinping’s congratulatory letter clarified the shared concerns of global media and injected a driving force in the world media to bear their responsibilities and strengthen exchanges and cooperation in the new situation.

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