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)
Omitted news from March 12
Georgian communist repeats Russo-Chinese propaganda on “US laboratories in Ukraine”
On March 12, Malkhaz Khabazi, who reportedly ran in the 2016 and 2020 parliamentary elections from the Georgian Communist Party, repeated Russo-Chinese propaganda on “US laboratories in Ukraine”.
His Facebook post said the following: “China intends to transfer documents obtained by Russia from US laboratories in Ukraine to the US and ask for a detailed explanation from the US on the production of dangerous pathogens, which the US blamed on China… As for other laboratories in the post-Soviet space, Russia requests detailed information on what research is being carried out in these laboratories, including the Lugar laboratory in our country”.
Independent fact-checkers flagged the information on Facebook as false.
14.03.2022 – 20.03.2022
Georgia’s PM held a farewell meeting with the Chinese Ambassador
Li Yan and Irakli Garibashvili. Source: Government of Georgia
On March 16, the Press Service of the Government Administration of Georgia reported that the Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili held a farewell meeting with China’s Ambassador to Georgia Li Yan.
Reportedly, the discussion focused on Georgia-China cooperation in various areas, with special emphasis on trade, economic and investment relations. They “singled out significant progress” in recent years and prospects of deeper interaction.
Irakli Garibashvili once again thanked the Chinese Government for assistance in obtaining Covid-19 vaccines, also for “continuous support in the directions of technology and grant projects”.
The Chinese side underlined the importance of furthering these relations, “including investment cooperation in Georgia’s promising market”. According to the report, the two also singled out dynamic growth in the tourism sphere spurred by direct flights between Georgia and China. The report said that Li Yan also reaffirmed China’s support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
During the meeting, Garibashvili expressed hope that the next meeting of the Georgia-China Intergovernmental Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation would be held in near future.
Russian propaganda-supporting article concerning Georgia published in the Chinese state media
On March 20, an article entitled “US hegemony: the culprit of Ukraine crisis” was published in the Chinese state media outlet Global Times. The article contained a part that supported Russia’s propaganda on Georgia.
The author claimed that NATO’s promised expansion in Georgia posed “a realistic threat“ at the doorstep of Russia:
“...Since 1999, the US launched five major NATO expansions, pushing its borders eastward by more than 1,000 kilometers to include a large number of Eastern European countries, splitting Europe further. It also promised Ukraine, Georgia and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) NATO membership, posing a realistic threat at the doorstep of Russia”.
Chinese state media spreads disinformation claiming biolabs in Georgia working on “bioweapons”
On March 14, Chinese state media outlet CGTN published disinformation about Georgia entitled “Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Bioweapons: Time for more transparency”.
According to the article, the former “Georgian Security Minister said a US-funded medical facility in his country could be a cover for a bioweapon lab used for disturbing experiments that were banned in the US… The Russian Defense Ministry also claimed biological data of Ukrainian citizens had been transferred abroad. Biolabs in Ukraine and Georgia are working on a project involving bats as carriers of bioweapons. Such claims are likely to be written off as ’Russian disinformation’”.
Chinese state media outlet supposedly wrote about the Soviet state official and Georgia’s former Minister of State Security (1993-1995) Igor Giorgadze. According to Myth Detector, Giorgadze later acknowledged regarding the so-called experiments that he had no proof. This is not the first time when a Chinese state media outlet used Giorgadze’s disinformation.
On March 17, Giorgadze’s disinformation was also exploited in an article published by another Chinese state media outlet website china.com.cn.
Georgian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors to China contribute to a Chinese think tank publication
Archil Kalandia at the event. Source: The Embassy of Georgia to China
On March 15, the Chinese think tank Center for China and Globalization (CCG) held the launch of its latest publication “China and the World in a Changing Context: Perspectives from Ambassadors to China”. Georgia’s Ambassador to China participated in the CCG organized roundtable and during his speech at the event, Kalandia spoke about the global security challenges in the world and the dynamics of Georgia-China bilateral relations, the Embassy of Georgia to China reported. According to the Embassy, the Ambassador expressed solidarity and support for the Ukrainian people and “reminded the audience of the events of August 2008”.
The representatives of Chinese experts and scientific circles, diplomats and the media attended the event. The event’s list of observers included Minister Counsellor at Georgia’s Embassy in China David Pipinashvili and Hasan Mammadov, Third Secretary at the Embassy of Azerbaijan to China.
CCG’s publication contained articles of Georgian Ambassador to China Archil Kalanadia and Azerbaijani Ambassador to China Akram Zeynalli.
Kalandia in his publication entitled “Bilateral Relations between Georgia and China” discussed the history and continuation of Georgia-China ties.
According to the Georgian Ambassador, at the political level, the Governments of Georgia and China “put every effort in deepening bilateral partnership that is well demonstrated in the intensification of high-level contacts and reciprocal visits…” He noted that despite the distance and relative disparity in size and population, Georgia and China managed to establish “sound cooperation in international affairs and enjoy exemplary relations, based on respect and equality”.
The Ambassador also noted that in August 2018, a Georgian delegation led by the Vice Prime Minister of Georgia and Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maya Tskitishvili, held a working visit in the city of Urumqi, in China’s Xinjiang region, where she met with Hu Chunhua, Vice Premier of the State Council of China and Shohrat Zakir, the former Chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Kalandia wrote that one of the main subjects of meetings was the potential to use railways and other traffic networks to ensure transportation of Chinese cargo to Europe passing through Georgia and the more active use of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route. They also planned special emphasis on current and scheduled large-scale infrastructural projects to be implemented in Georgia.
Archil Kalandia mentioned that cooperation between the Parliament of Georgia and the National People’s Congress of China was also deepening: “Intensive interaction between political figures creates the environment of deeper mutual understanding”.
About the Belt and Road Initiative, the Ambassador said that it not only promoted connectivity between different countries but also provided new opportunities for the economic development of various countries and international cooperation and stressed that Georgia welcomed more Chinese engineering enterprises to enter the country.
Azerbaijani Ambassador to China Akram Zeynalli in his article entitled “Long-standing Friendship, Dedicated Political Dialogue and Mutually Beneficial Cooperation as a Key for Thriving Economic Partnership Between Azerbaijan and China” wrote that Azerbaijan and China have been developing bilateral relations “in the spirit of friendship, cooperation, mutual trust and respect and have strongly supported each other on the issues related to the vital interests and major concerns”.
In the part where the Ambassador discussed the economic relationship, he noted that currently, more than 180 Chinese companies were registered in Azerbaijan, and China invested about more than $820 million in the economy of Azerbaijan - “Azerbaijan, in turn, has invested more than $1.7 billion in the Chinese economy”. He also emphasized that big Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE were “operating successfully” in Azerbaijan, and noted that the regional office of Huawei was located in Azerbaijan.
On the Belt and Road Initiative, he stressed that the Azerbaijani side stood ready to work with China to use the BRI as an opportunity “to align the development plans of the two sides, deepen cooperation in infrastructure construction and other extensive areas, expand cultural, educational and local exchanges and enhance mutual understanding and friendship”.
Azerbaijani Ambassador expressed Azerbaijan’s willingness to welcome more Chinese investors to Azerbaijan. He also mentioned that Azerbaijan would actively cooperate with Chinese “friends and businesses”, interested in getting involved in the revival process of Azerbaijan’s regained territories. On the planned Nakhchivan corridor Ambassador wrote that it would play “an important role in terms of connectivity along the Belt and Road route and bring about further opportunities for Azerbaijan and China to expand cooperation in transportation and logistics”.
Georgian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors full publications can be found here.
Chinese Embassy and National Archives of Armenia discuss cooperation
Fan Yong and Grigor Arshakyan. Source: China’s Embassy in Armenia
On March 15, China’s Ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong was invited to visit the National Archives of Armenia and met with its Director Grigor Arshakyan, the Chinese Embassy in Armenia reported.
It was noted that the National Archives of Armenia was willing to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with China. The National Archives of Armenia expressed hope to actively discuss with the Chinese Embassy in Armenia to jointly hold archives exhibitions and other interrelated celebrations.
Reportedly, the Chinese Embassy in Armenia is willing to actively promote the friendly cooperation between the archive departments of the two sides.
Confucius Institute in Azerbaijan continues holding cultural events
The Confucius Institute at the Azerbaijan University of Languages University conducted a special scientific seminar on rock art in Azerbaijan and China, Azertac reported on March 18.
On March 17, the Confucius Institute at the Baku State University and the Azerbaijan Research Center at the Chinese Anhui University jointly held an online lecture about traditional Chinese architecture, Azertac reported.