ON CHINA’S XI JINPING VISIT TO CENTRAL ASIA

Secretary General of the China Communist Party, China’s President Xi Jinping one of the leaders who did not make any foreign visits since the outbreak of virus Covid-19 from January 2020. The situation has changed last week.

he couldn’t miss a trip to Central Asia:

On 14 September Xi Jinping visits Kazakhstan to participate at the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Nur-Sultan (currently Astana). China has still complicated relations with some of Central Asian countries, namely Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan due to anti-Chinese sentiments, failed China investment (Bishkek heating project), ethnic Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uyghur maltreatment and imprisonment of ethnic Kazakhs relatives in Xinjiang. The importance of Kazakhstan

Why this trip of Xi Jinping to Central Asia is such a big deal?

For Kazakhstan, Temur Umarov, Carnegie’s Fellow suggests to be more timely, especially voices coming from Kremlin over neutral (or pro-Ukraine) position of Kazakhstan over Russia-Ukraine war. Kazakhstan is an important partner for China – Belt and Road Initiative launched in Kazakhstan’s Astana in 2013.

Kazakhstan importance to China is played by the transit potential and connectivity of Chinese cargo to Europe. Since Russia launched “military operation” in Ukraine, the whole West, especially European Union stand against Russia and the countries using Russia as a transit. Russia is totally isolated from global markets and Central Asia, especially Kazakhstan consider China as a great alternative to Russia as a trade partner and ally. Kazakhstan has a bug number of ethnic Russians in the north. There is a concern that Russia may want to “liberate” them from Kazakhstan.

Chinese cargo trains going through Kazakhstan (then to Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea) increased up-to 6 times. In 2020, the two main cargo transit hubs on the border of Kazakhstan and China, Alashankou and Khorgos, was increased significantly in volumes compared to pre-pandemic. It was also emphasized the importance of the “Middle Corridor,” linking Kazakh rail to Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, and onwards to Europe.  In 2022, about 2013 container trains passed the Kazakh territory, which is 25% more than the previous year. From Kazakhstan to Europe 1,147 trains were operated, which is a year-to-year increase of 14%. In the opposite direction 866 trains were sent, a notable increase of 43%.

The ensuring security of the global supply chain is one of the development priorities, putting importance on the role of the trains as “emergency measures” stabilizing unexpected events affecting sea-based trade was mentioned in the recent report on the China-Europe train by China Railway.

On 16 September 2022, President Xi Jinping attended the 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the Samarkand Congress Center. President Xi delivered an important statement entitled “Ride on the Trend of the Times and Enhance Solidarity and Cooperation to Embrace a Better Future”. Leaders of SCO member states signed and released the Samarkand Declaration of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization

SCO was founded in 2001 in Shanghai in post-border delimitation process of China with Central Asia and Russia, today is dubbed as a security organization of the East (as an alliance against the NATO) benefits both China and Russia. SCO serves the unique platform where China is played a leading role to bring together Russia, China, Central Asian countries also India, Pakistan and potentially Iran and Turkey in the future.

Some statements and documents were issued on protecting international food and energy security, tackling climate change, and keeping supply chains secure, stable and diversified; a memorandum of obligations on Iran’s SCO membership was signed; the procedure for Belarus’ accession was started; MOUs granting Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar the status of SCO dialogue partners were signed; agreement was reached on admitting Bahrain, the Maldives, the UAE, Kuwait and Myanmar as new dialogue partners; and a series of resolutions were adopted, including a Comprehensive Plan for the Implementation of the SCO Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation for 2023-2027. It was decided at the meeting that India will assume the SCO rotating presidency for 2022-2023.

Taiwan, Xinjiang and One China policy

Considering after 3 years of “lockdown”, the analysts link his trip to Central Asia as a reaction to Nancy Pelosi, US House of Representative Speaker to Taiwan in August; Russia has already expressed that that trip was provocative and dangerous of peace and stability in Asia; Others believe that it is a time for showing off the strength before the next Party Session scheduled next month where he to be reelected for the next term.

China is pursuing “reunification” of Taiwan as a Republic of China to People’s Republic of China even a military scenario to be involved. If a war breaks out over Taiwan, China will be unable to secure energy supplies by sea. China has turned its focus to Central Asia as part of Chinese strategic thinking, so the neighboring countries recognize Republic of China as an integral part of PRC. In China senior leadership circles, discussion about fighting against external interference meaning western aid to Russia-Ukraine war and supporting Taiwan.

This year the EU Parliament adopted a resolution where it describes China policies in Xinjiang as a genocide against Uyghur people. Based on this background Xi’s visit to Central Asia is the important diplomatic trips. Central Asian states history and culture is inseparable from Xinjiang and share a 3,000-km border with Xinjiang, and it requires a constant maintenance from Beijing to ensure there are no cross-border sympathizers to those opposing its extreme policies in Xinjiang.

Umedjon Majidi – Author of the blog series, Expert/Research Consultant, Civic IDEA

Big Power Game, Xi’s Voyage to Central Asia

Author of the Article – Ani Kintsurashvili, Senior Researcher, Civic IDEA

10th China Watch report CSCEC in Georgia

Civic IDEA is pleased to share with you the 10th China Watch report related to another Chinese company operating in Georgia, China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd. (so-called CSCEC), and reviews its scandals and misconduct that occurred in Georgia and worldwide.

CSCEC is one of the largest Chinese state construction companies, founded in 1982. Since then, it has operated in more than 100 countries worldwide. The company’s main activities comprise real estate, construction financing, operation and engineering (housing and infrastructure), as well as design and survey. This company has been embroiled in numerous scandals in the past two decades. More precisely, the CSCEC and its subsidies have been exposed to corruption and fraud schemes in the US, Philippines, Pakistan, Hungary, and several other countries and have been blacklisted by different state and international institutions.

Read more about the company’s reputation and activities in our report: 👇

Collection of Articles Vol. 2 “From Caspian to Black Sea Economic, Academic and Digital Threats posed by the PRC”

Civic IDEA has the honor to share with the audience the second part of the series of Collection of Articles under the name “From Caspian to Black Sea: Economic, Academic and Digital Threats posed by the PRC”. Publication in front of you is the second edition of a collective effort by Civic IDEA and its partners and distinguished experts from the region to analyze and debate the Chinese activities in their respective countries in various fields, be it academia, business, politics, or other state matters. This time, the publication was inspired by the outstanding work of our Taiwanese partner Doublethink Lab about the Chinese influence operations assembled in China Index-2021, to be followed at https://china-index.io. This regularly updated web tracker allows all interested in monitoring and measuring PRC influence around the Globe.

The contributor authors to the second issue of the collection of articles are the following:

Tinatin Khidasheli – Chairperson, Civic IDEA

Ani Kintsurashvili – Senior Researcher, Civic IDEA

Vusal Guliyev – Fellow, the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University

Gubad Ibadoghlu – Senior Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Umedjon Majidi – Anti Corruption Expert, Sarajevo, BIH

Gia Jandieri – Director, New Economic School of Georgia

Danila Bekturganov – Director, NGO “Civil Expertise”

Denis Cenusa – Associated Expert, Think Tank EESC (Lithuania) / Think Tank Expert-Grup (Moldova)

Civic IDEA is also grateful to National Endowment for Democracy and the US Embassy for their immense support and contribution.

12 STEPS TOWARDS EU CANDIDACY

The Georgian CSOs elaborated an Action Plan which could be easily implemented till the end of 2022, provided political will is present.

The Action Plan contains an absolute minimum of critically important reforms, essential for granting the EU Membership Candidacy status.

Signatory organizations:

  • Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)
  • Democracy Index
  • International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
  • Transparency International Georgia  
  • Democracy Research Institute (DRI)
  • Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
  • European Initiative – Liberal Academy Tbilisi
  • Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association
  • Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
  • Social Justice Center
  • Georgian Court Watch
  • Safari
  • Civic idea
  • The Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) 
  • Georgian Alliance of Regional Broadcasters
  • TV Net
  • The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics
  • Rights Georgia
  • Media Development Foundation
  • Europe-Georgia Institute 
  • Partnership for human rights

Maritime Security in the Black Sea: Implications for Eastern and Central Europe

The Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade has the pleasure to invite you to its upcoming online conference entitled

Maritime Security in the Black Sea: Implications for Eastern and Central Europe

With

  • Tinatin Khidasheli Chairperson Civic IDEA; Former Minister of Defense, Georgia
  • Michael van Ginkel Visiting Budapest Fellow, Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Paul Beckley Maritime Analyst, North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • Dr. Barış Hasan Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Pécs
  • Moderator: György Ilyash Research Fellow at Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • The event will be held on 7 June, 2022 (Tuesday) at 2:00 p.m. (CET)

The event will be held in English.

Available at: 👇

https://kki.hu/en/event/maritime-security-in-the-black-sea-implications-for-eastern-and-central-europe/

New European Geostrategic Reality – Is Enlargement part of it?

On June 2-4, in Munich, the event “New European Geostrategic Reality — Is Enlargement Part of It?” was held in collaboration with the Bled Strategic Forum.

🗣Speakers include Tinatin Khidasheli, Chairperson at Civic IDEA (Fmr. Minister of Defence of Georgia), Zoran Nechev, Senior Researcher at Institute for Democracy Societas Civilis Skopje – IDSCS, and Adnan Ćerimagić, Senior Analyst at European Stability Initiative.

The conference focused on themes of a new strategic reality since Russian aggression on Ukraine has changed the geopolitical and geostrategic reality of Europe forever. The speakers discussed enlargement difficulties and the future of this policy, which has been one of the key historic tools in securing European stability and prosperity. 
The conference was moderated by Peter Grk, Secretary General of the Bled Strategic Forum.

Chinese Leverage in Georgia’s Academic, CSO and Media Sectors: Post-Covid Reality.

Civic IDEA published the second volume of the report “Chinese Leverage in Georgia’s Academic, CSO and Media Sectors: Post-Covid Reality”. The current paper reviews Georgia – Chinese cooperation in Academia, that is, among various universities, academic programs, scholarships, etc., analyzing realities created by Covid Pandemic and its consequences. Moreover, it gives a comparative analysis by evaluating foreign trends and policies toward Chinese malign academic activities. Mainly, the report focuses on the cases of the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Hungary, Serbia, the US, and Sweden to demonstrate that, like other essential domains, Academia can be exploited by foreign actors.

The report is implemented with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy and the US Embassy in Tbilisi, in cooperation with the Central European Institute of Asian Studies.

Report 👇

Civic IDEA attended the online event devoted to launching the China Index (Beta) Website.

On April 25, Civic IDEA attended the online event devoted to launching the China Index (Beta) Website.

The China Index questionnaire was developed in consultation with a committee of scholars in China studies. The index focuses on PRC’s efforts to influence media, foreign policy, academia, local politics, economy, technology, society, military, and law enforcement. Each domain contains key indicators to assess the PRC’s influence in a country. Civic IDEA partnered up with other think tanks and NGOs located in different geographical regions and, being supervised by the Taiwanese think tank “Doublethinklab,” has covered the regions of South Caucasus and Central Asia. Overall, Doublethinklab was able to map out the PRC’s influence in 38 countries in the pilot edition of the project.

For more information, please visit the website link: https://china-index.io/

Georgia’s Foreign Debt Policies: PRC’s bank among Georgia’s top creditors

Civic IDEA started observing Georgia’s foreign debt policy after the Georgian Dream officially refused financial assistance from the European Union. It turns out that Georgia is still actively borrowing from various financial institutions or directly from other countries, and the two main creditors of the country are the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). On September 21, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is highly affected by China, officially announced that it would provide the Georgian government with a USD 100 million loan, aiming to strengthen Georgia’s electricity sector. On September 24, ADB already approved a USD 15 million loan to assist Georgia in effectively implementing the vaccination programs. Three weeks before the debt approval from the ADB, the Georgian government publicly refrained from taking 75 million Euros worth of aid from the European Union. According to Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili’s official statement, Georgia has begun the reduction of its foreign debt, and therefore, no additional assistance from the EU was needed. 

Based on the information we have, the question naturally arises: Why does the Georgian government take debt from the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank when their services are twice as expensive as the EU’s? We will provide our readers with a consistent history of when, why and under what conditions the Government of Georgia decided to cooperate with the bank, which was established only recently, in 2016.