China Radar: South Caucasus is a monthly publication by Rondeli Foundation (GFSIS) dedicated to China’s activities and influence in the three nations of South Caucasus.
With the global rise of great power tensions and competition related to China’s role in the world, Rondeli Foundation began to take a closer look at China’s role in our own region. Since July 2020, we have been publishing China’s Activities in the South Caucasus digest that exhaustively covers events and developments in this regard. China Radar builds on China’s Activities digest to provide experts, researchers, civil servants and other observers of China’s foreign strategy with a comprehensive summary of China’s political, diplomatic, economic, informational, soft power and other activities towards Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia as well as these nations’ stances and actions concerning China.
Sources of information provided in China Radar can be found in the issues of China’s Activities digest covering the relevant months unless indicated otherwise. All issues of both China Radar and China’s Activities digest can be found on Rondeli Foundation’s China Watch page.
China’s Presence, Activities and Influence in the South Caucasus
Diplomatic Activities and Messaging
On 8 June 2022, China voted against Georgia on the UN General Assembly resolution regarding the status of internally displaced persons and refugees from the Russian-occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia. The resolution passed with 95 countries in favor, 12 including China opposing it, and 56 abstentions. The other states that voted against Georgia were Russia, Belarus, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Laos, Burundi, Nicaragua, Sudan, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.
The next day, on 9 June, during an event celebrating the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Georgia and China, the latter country’s ambassador to Georgia, Zhou Qian, praised the two countries’ joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative. The ambassador also promoted Xi Jinping’s recent Global Security Initiative and the Chinese foreign concept of the “community of shared future for mankind.”
On 15 June, Zhou Qian published an article with similar messages regarding cooperation with Georgia on the BRI in the Chinese media.
On 9 June, Zhou Qian’s article was published by the Georgian Times. The ambassador wrote that the BRI was "strongly" in line with Georgia's development strategy to become a logistics and transport hub in Eurasia, and that China-Georgia cooperation within the BRI framework was “rapidly growing.”
Economic Involvement and Connections
According to a 9 June Geostat report, China was Georgia’s fourth-largest direct investor in the first quarter of 2022 with $36.4 million that constituted 6.4% of Georgia’s foreign direct investment in that period.
As reported on 22 June, Azerbaijan Railways subsidiary, ADY Container, launched a new service connecting China and Europe from the port of Batumi, Georgia. The service involves delivery of containers through the Black Sea between Batumi and the Romanian port of Constanța, with six departures a month.
South Caucasus Actors Expressing Support for China
In a 2 June pro-China article, Armenian Member of Parliament from the opposition Republican Party and deputy chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, Hayk Mamijanyan, expressed his conviction that China (under the Communist Party leadership as Mamijanyan stressed) would continue to strengthen its international influence.
Stances and Activities by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Benefiting China’s Foreign Policy
Support for the Belt and Road Initiative
On 9 June, during an event celebrating the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Georgia and China, Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Khvtisiashvili, and Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Genadi Arveladze, stated that Georgia and China intended to sign a bilateral action plan on the BRI cooperation. Arveladze expressed his confidence that the “truly comprehensive” action plan on the “outstanding Belt and Road Initiative proposed by the President of China Mr. Xi Jinping” would be signed “in the near future.” Executive director of the Partnership Fund of Georgia, David Saganelidze, stated that he was playing a leading role in the preparation of the action plan together with the Development and Reform Commission of China.
In a 9 June article published in the Chinese media outlet CGTN, Georgia’s ambassador to China, Archil Kalandia, stressed the importance of developing the Trans-Caspian International Transport Corridor within the BRI framework.
On 21 June, Armenia’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, stated that his country attached great importance to the implementation of the BRI.
Other Support for China and its Policies
The speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili, reaffirmed Georgia’s support for the One China policy during his meeting with the Chinese ambassador on 27 June.