China Radar: South Caucasus; Issue 23, April-May 2023

ავტორი: David Batashvili

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

Propaganda and Disinformation

The Chinese state-controlled media continued its disinformation campaign targeting Georgia. On 13 April, the CGTN outlet published a material attacking Georgia’s democratic Rose Revolution of 2003.


On 4 May, such disinformation went beyond the media when the Chinese Embassy in Georgia published a material containing an attack on the Rose Revolution, attributing it to a supposed CIA operation.


On 18 May, both China’s Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Georgia published yet another material targeting the Rose Revolution, and attributing it to US actions.


Political Activities

On 28 April, China’s ambassador to Armenia Fan Yong and the Chinese military attaché in the country met with First Secretary of the Communist Party of Armenia, Yerjanik Ghazaryan, and the military secretary of the Communist Party of Armenia, discussing among other things the strengthening of inter-party exchanges.


On May 19, Fan Yong met with the chairman of the opposition Republican Party and former president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, as well as the Republican Party’s another leader Hayk Mamijanyan, reportedly making to them “a throughout introduction of the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative.”


Also on 19 May, Fan Yong met with Armenia’s the National Agenda Party leaders Ara Hakobyan and Ara Gasparyan.


On 29 May, the head of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee, Liu Jianchao, held a meeting with the deputy chairman of Azerbaijan’s ruling New Azerbaijan Party Tahir Budagov, discussing “strengthening inter-party exchanges.”


Diplomatic Messaging

On 5 April, China’s ambassador to Georgia, Zhou Qian, made a speech, blaming the US and its allies for helping Ukraine defend itself against the Russian aggression through “military aid, unilateral sanctions, and other means” by which he said they “are adding fuel to the fire.” This was followed by Zhou Qian saying Beijing was “ready to bring more Chinese wisdom and Chinese vision to solve the common challenges facing humanity.”


At the 15 May meeting with the Georgian parliament's foreign relations committee, the Chinese ambassador Georgia, Zhou Qianpromoted Beijing’s Global Security Initiative, as well as the “joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative” with Georgia.


Economic Involvement and Connections

On 17 April it was reported the Baku Port (Azerbaijan) signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s Qingdao Port. The purpose of the memorandum is “to attract a larger volume of transit cargo flow through the Middle Corridor passing through Azerbaijan.”


South Caucasus Actors Expressing Support for China

The head of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies in Yerevan, Armenia, Benyamin Poghosyan, published an article in China Daily on 28 April, cautioning European states against being “the junior partner of the US,” and being dragged “into a dangerous confrontation with China for reasons that have nothing to do with European collective security or any European country's strategic interests.”


Stances and Activities by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Benefiting China’s Foreign Policy

Support for the Belt and Road Initiative

On 7 April, Georgian ambassador to China Archil Kalandia met with a Chinese official from the Office for Promoting the Construction of the Belt and Road Initiative Pan Jiang, discussing deepening the two countries’ cooperation in jointly developing the BRI.


On 28 May, Azerbaijani ambassador to China Akram Zeynalli said that the Belt and Road Initiative brought "vast opportunities and dividends to the participating countries in terms of trade, investment, infrastructure, transportation.”

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