CHINA WATCH

China's Activities in the South Caucasus Issue 84, 16.1.2023 – 22.1.2023

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) 

  • Aliyev to Xi: I express my determination to develop and expand the friendly and effective relations of cooperation between Azerbaijan and China
  • In 2022, China was Georgia's third-biggest trading partner
  • Pashinyan: Armenia attaches great importance to the stable and consistent development of close cooperation with China
  • Azerbaijani Ambassador to China comments positively on living conditions in Xinjiang
  • Georgian Education Minister and Chinese Ambassador discussed prospects of deepening the partnership
  • Chinese Embassy Counselor notes the strengthening of political ties between China and Azerbaijan at Confucius Institute event

 

Read the full publication:

"Excellent partners and trustworthy friends" - Aliyev about the Azerbaijan-China relationship

An interview with Ilham Aliyev. Source: Azemedia

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, was interviewed by China's CGTN TV channel in Davos, Azemedia reported on January 18.

During the interview, he said that Azerbaijan and China had established "a very solid platform" for cooperation describing their 30 years long political relationship as being "excellent partners and trustworthy friends".

Aliyev also added: "We have very good cooperation in international institutions. We always supported each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty and established a very strong political platform. So, based on that, we are now constructing a framework for our economic cooperation. And we're looking forward to seeing more Chinese companies in Azerbaijan. Quite a few of them are already very active in different areas. We fully support the initiatives of President Xi Jinping with respect to the Middle Corridor".

About the investments, the President said that it was time to think and act more about diversification. As he said, investments in the non-energy sector, in infrastructure, in transportation infrastructure, and in particular in renewable sources of energy, are one of the priorities of Azerbaijan.

"We are now in the final stage of the inaugural phase of the free economic zone in the region of Alat, close to Baku. We hope that Chinese companies will pay attention to these opportunities," he noted.

While discussing the Belt and Road Initiative, Ilham Aliyev said that it was "a timely and very wise initiative" that now was embracing and covering a large geography. He noted that Azerbaijan actively joined from the very beginning, and started to invest in the infrastructure.

During the interview, the Azerbaijani President also expressed his willingness to expand "green energy collaboration" with China: "there is a lot of potential in Azerbaijan. There are also big technological achievements in China. So, we need to combine these efforts".

Regarding China, he continued: "I can tell you sincerely that what China does on the global stage with respect to support and cooperation must be highly valued by the international community. You do it on a global scale; we do it on a regional scale, but the same philosophy applies, and it works. Because look, China is one of the most successful countries in the world and the leading economy in the world".

 

In 2022, China was Georgia's third-biggest trading partner

In 2022, China was Georgia's third-biggest trading partner with a $1 862.8 million turnover, which was 9.8% of the total Georgian trade, Geostat reported on January 20.

China was Georgia's top trading partner by exports with $736.8 million (13.2% of total exports) and compared to the same period in 2021, there was a 19.7% growth. Copper ores and concentrates continued to be a top export item from Georgia to China accounting for 79% ($582.6 million) of Georgia's total exports to China. The second top export item is precious metal ores and concentrates which accounted for 10.9% ($80.9 million) of Georgia's exports to China.

China was the third-biggest import partner of Georgia with $1 125.9 million, which was 8.4% of total imports, and compared to 2021, that was a 30.2% growth.

 

Pashinyan: Armenia attaches great importance to the stable and consistent development of close cooperation with China

The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan sent congratulatory messages to the CCP Chairman Xi Jinping and the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang on the occasion of the Chinese New Year, News.am reported on January 22.

In the letter addressed to Li, Pashinyan wrote that Armenia attached "great importance to the stable and consistent development of close cooperation" with China.

"As you know, last year we marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and China, and in this regard, I am sure that the results of the mutually beneficial cooperation recorded in various fields of mutual interest during these years will multiply in the near future for the benefit of our two friendly peoples," Pashinyan wrote to Xi.

 

Azerbaijani Ambassador to China comments positively on living conditions in Xinjiang

On January 16, China's state-run People's Daily published an article entitled "People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang enjoy good human rights protection".

Reportedly, the article contained comments of the Azerbaijani Ambassador to China, Akram Zeynalli. The article said that when the Ambassador visited Xinjiang, he saw the life and work situation of workers. He reportedly said the following: "The cotton processing equipment here is extremely advanced, and the living conditions of the employees and the conditions of the dormitory buildings are very good".

 

Aliyev to Xi: I express my determination to develop and expand the friendly and effective relations of cooperation between Azerbaijan and China

On the occasion of the Spring Festival, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev sent a congratulatory letter to the CCP Chairman Xi Jinping, Trend reported on January 21.

"I do hope that this spring holiday, which brings a new appearance and revival to nature and a new spirit to people, brings pleasant days, peace, and abundance to your friendly people and country. Taking this opportunity, I express my determination to successfully develop and expand the friendly and effective relations of cooperation between Azerbaijan and China through our joint efforts," Xi wrote.

 

Georgian Education Minister and Chinese Ambassador discussed prospects of deepening the partnership

Mikheil Chkhenkeli and Zhou Qian. Source: The Chinese Embassy in Georgia

The Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, Mikheil Chkhenkeli, held an introductory meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Zhou Qian, the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia reported on January 17.

The Minister thanked the Ambassador for the cooperation and the joint projects that the Ministry had been successfully implementing for many years, in partnership with China, in the direction of general and higher education and science. Chkhenkeli noted that the universities and scientific-research institutions of Georgia and China had a long-term close partnership, which was "a visible example of the existing friendship between the two countries".

During the conversation, the parties discussed the prospects of deepening the existing partnership between Georgia and China and discussed issues of strengthening scientific ties. The Chinese Ambassador thanked the Minister for his support and expressed readiness to actively cooperate with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia.

According to the Chinese Embassy report, the Chinese Ambassador presented the Minister with the English versions of the third and fourth volumes of Xi Jinping's "The Governance of China".

 

Azerbaijani MP: Azerbaijan is among the countries actively supporting China's BRI

Soltan Mammadov. Source: Trend

An independent member of Azerbaijan's Parliament, Soltan Mammadov, who is also a member of a working group on Azerbaijan-China inter-parliamentary relations, said that Azerbaijan was among the countries actively supporting China's Belt and Road Initiative, Trend reported on January 20.

Mammadov said that the high-level political ties between the two countries proved that the relations between the two countries were based on mutual trust.

Reportedly, he noted that Azerbaijan and China closely cooperated in international organizations and cooperation illustrated the presence of "the common interests of the two countries in the geopolitical realm".

The MP also added that the Belt and Road Initiative was able "to change not only the world's economic picture but also its political picture to a certain level, by creating a new formula for peace, security, cooperation, and development in the South Caucasus".

 

Azerbaijani Ambassador praises China

The annual international charity sale titled "Love Knows No Borders" was held in Beijing, attended by Chinese diplomats including Foreign Minister Qin Gang and staff from more than 120 foreign embassies in China, the Chinese tabloid Global Times reported on January 19.

Reportedly, Azerbaijan's Ambassador to China, Akram Zeynalli said that "China now is leading a path, which is a good example for other countries to follow, to fight poverty among our communities."

 

Georgian Ambassador to China and representatives of Guram Tavartkiladze University discussed issues of future cooperation

Archil Kalandia at Guram Tavartkiladze University. Source: Guram Tavartkiladze University

On January 13, the Georgian Ambassador to China Archil Kalandia visited Guram Tavartkiladze University (GTUNI) in Tbilisi, Georgia. The Ambassador inspected the infrastructure of GTUNI, the Chinese and the Ukrainian language classrooms, and expressed his approval of the university's ongoing activities.

Reportedly, the issues of future cooperation were discussed. The Ambassador also got acquainted with the future plans of the university and expressed his willingness to actively support and consult the university in the development of new educational programs. Additionally, Kalandia spoke about new perspectives on educational cooperation and exchange programs between Georgia and China.

At the university, Kalandia met the Rector of the university, Professor Giorgi Matiashvili, Chancellor Eli Elisashvili, and representatives of the administration.

 

Chinese Embassy Counselor notes the strengthening of political ties between China and Azerbaijan at Confucius Institute event

A photo from the event. Source: The Azerbaijan University of Languages

The Confucius Institute of the Azerbaijan University of Languages held a series of events dedicated to the Chinese New Year, the university reported on January 18. The report said that the university hosted an event "Azerbaijan celebrates the Chinese New Year".

The Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan, Ding Tao made a speech at the event. The Counselor congratulated the guests on the Spring Festival and noted the progressive development of Chinese-Azerbaijani friendly relations, the strengthening of political ties between the two countries, and the expansion of cooperation in the economic, cultural, and educational spheres.

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