During the past five years of intensive work revealing the PRC’s soft and hard power strategies jeopardizing Georgia’s national security, Civic IDEA has already published two reports covering China’s influence on Georgia’s academic, media and CSO sectors before, during, and after the emergence of the covid-19 pandemic. Today, we suggest another monitoring report from the Chinese cooperation and activities in Georgian Academia, though not related directly to the universities, but to the National Academy of Sciences of Georgia.
Through personal correspondence and public information available on their official website, Civic IDEA has discovered several memorandums and cooperation agreements the National Academy of Sciences has signed with both state and private Chinese entities, as well as numerous events and activities following the advanced relations with China. We came across several interesting connections that have already been established between local chapters of the Academy of Science, as well as individual scientists under the auspices of the Academy and Chinese universities, which gives us the idea that the increased research and academic cooperation will only boost and the partnership will gain even more attachment in the future.
Within the scope of the project, “Civil Monitoring of Accountability, Transparency and Anti-Corruption Activities within the Framework of the 12 Recommendations of the European Union,” hereby we share a performance monitoring report on the EU Commission’s fourth recommendation – (anti-corruption policy). The report has been prepared by the Virtual Democracy Academy in cooperation with Civic IDEA.
The document reviews and scrutinizes Georgia’s present anti-corruption policy, as well as the Georgian government’s efforts to implement the Commission’s anti-corruption recommendations. The document will also further analyze the initiatives and actions of civil society and political opposition in relation to the fulfillment of the Commission’s 4th recommendation.
The main findings of the report:
Fulfilling the 12 recommendations of the European Commission is one of the main challenges and obligations of the country. Despite the fact that the Government declared its full readiness to fulfill the mentioned obligations, as of today, Georgia has fully implemented only one recommendation.
The legislative changes carried out within the framework of the implementation of the fourth recommendation do not fully meet the request of the European Commission, which is caused by the fact that the law on the anti-corruption bureau cannot ensure that the anti-corruption bureau is equipped with all the main levers necessary to effectively fight corruption.
The shortcoming of the new anti-corruption bureau is also manifested in the fact that the institution does not have an investigative function, and the procedure for appointing the head of the anti-corruption bureau calls into question the institutional independence of the bureau.
The international practice of the anti-corruption bureau indicates that the assignment of the investigative mandate is critical for the agency’s effective functioning. Lithuania stands out as one of the best examples of this. The country, which has the same past as Georgia, was able to create an effective anti-corruption agency, which, thanks to its investigative mandate, successfully fights corruption at both the petty and elite levels.
The international experience of the countries shows that any effort taken to combat corruption would yield no benefits unless the bureau’s independence is also guaranteed. Furthermore, the achievements in the battle against corruption are more obvious in countries where the anti-corruption agency has a high degree of independence.
As a result, all legislative changes implemented by the authorities to fulfill the fourth recommendation leave the perception of formal fulfillment of the obligation. The anti-corruption bureau does not entirely share the work model of successful countries’ anti-corruption organizations, which includes equipping it with investigative functions.
The project is implemented with financial support from the European Union and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and in coordination with the Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia.
For four years, Civic IDEA yearly has been publishing several reports about the Chinese companies that, within the framework of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, actively continue to operate in the Georgian market, and more specifically in the infrastructure sector of Georgia, and are responsible for the construction of the main highway, roads, bridges and on the construction of tunnels. If you move from the Eastern part of Georgia to the Western part of Georgia, you will find many abbreviations of different Chinese companies on your way while going through the Ricoti Mountain pass. This is exactly the pass where the construction of a 51.6 km long road is planned, which includes 96 bridges and 53 tunnels.
In our reports, we have already reviewed the activities of China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited and China Road and Bridge Corporation in Georgia and the related misconduct based on a comparative analysis of foreign examples. This time we offer an analysis of the projects won by Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group in Georgia and its shady practices in Uganda and mainland China.
Already in the updated version of the list, which dates back to December 2021, we see that Georgia’s leading strategic partner, the United States, has blacklisted not only the Huawei divisions in different cities in China but also its other branches abroad. More precisely, the US has barred exports, reexports, and transfers coming from the Huawei subdivisions in Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK, Vietnam. According to the document, the main reason for their debar-ment is linked to the security vulnerabilities that Huawei items convey.
Civic IDEA’s 11th China Watch report discusses the controversies around China’s state-owned nuclear company China Nuclear Industry 23 Construction Co., Ltd., alternatively referred to as “CNNC No.23” or CNI23 operating since 1958. There is no record provided by internet sources about the misconduct related to particularly CNI23 and its representation in different states. Nevertheless, some problems and scandals are still associated with its founding investor firms: China National Nuclear Corporation and China General Nuclear Power Engineering Co., Ltd. China General Nuclear Power Engineering Co., Ltd. first appeared on the Georgian market in 2012 and since then has won several state procurements and made private investments.
For more information about the CNI23, see the attachment below: 👇
A few days ago, the Central Asian region became the epicenter of the world’s attention due to Xi Jinping’s historic visit, which is his first post-pandemic trip outside the People’s Republic of China. Xi’s Central Asian voyage started in Kazakhstan, where he landed on September 14 and met with the Kazakhstani President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, together with the delegation including the Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan and the Mayor of Nur-Sultan. The two sides discussed energy, health and trade relations and agreed on signing numerous new bilateral agreements. Two countries issued a joint statement according to which Kazakhstan supports the PRC’s claim over Taiwan and stay loyal to the “One China Principle”. “During this short period (30 years), we have established strong interstate ties. I sincerely thank you for your support for Kazakhstan’s economic development and our international initiatives,” – Tokayev told the Chinese leader. The same day, after ensuring mutual understanding and support with Kazakhstan, Xi Jinping flew to Uzbekistan to attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and held bilateral meetings with several leaders, of which Russian President Vladimir Putin is particularly noteworthy. Prior to the meeting with the Russian president, the CCP leader met with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan to likewise Kazakhstan, safeguard their long-term partnership and shared future at the bilateral level. The president of Uzbekistan expressed his firm and unequivocal support for the one-China principle concerning its core interests in Taiwan. On September 16, the CCP leader met with the Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and pledged “political mutual trust”. On the same day, Xi Jinping also held bilateral talks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, where the latter showed his willingness to obstruct the US sanctions with the help of the PRC and SCO. Xi himself mentioned that he expects the growth of their comprehensive partnership and showed support to “Iran in safeguarding its sovereignty and national dignity”.
However, it is interesting to know why the Chinese leader specifically chose Central Asia as his first destination after two years of lockdown. Unsurprisingly, his behavior carries more broad and more strategic meaning for the country and his party. His message was concise and clear, addressing that in these challenging times when Russia’s role is declining in Central Asia, PRC shows readiness to play the role of the leading global power in the region and seeks to reconfirm this objective with the visit of the Chinese leader. CCP’s foreign ambitions have always aimed to link countries to China through economic and infrastructure projects. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative has served this goal since 2013 and connected countries from the South Pacific through Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa through various trade routes. With his visit, Xi guaranteed the PRC’s devotion and considerable financial investment in the global initiative. Central Asia, and particularly Kazakhstan, has played an essential role during the nine-year bilateral cooperation under the BRI. The region itself is conceived being a gateway connecting the PRC with Europe. It is not surprising that in a world full of tense circumstances, China does not lose interest in Central Asia and is always ready to expand its influence in the region. Central Asia itself proved to be reasonably stable without any significant power competition compared to the rest of the world. Accordingly, China is positioning this region as a favorable hub for its companies and long-term investments.
On the other hand, the expectations of the Central Asian countries about Xi’s visit being a vow to deepen mutual understanding and trust, and bring bilateral economic bonds closer, were also justified by Xi’s first and historical visit since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the region is closely dependent on Moscow in various sectors and Russia itself is embroiled in a war with Ukraine, sanctioned by the entire West (and not only by the Western countries but also by the leading Asian democracies), and waned on the regional level, Central Asia may consider the PRC as an effective alternative to Russia in the future, especially in terms of the economic cooperation. Accordingly, the statements made by the Central Asian leaders during Xi’s visit and their shared future expectations for survival reflect this strategic intention.
Meanwhile, the Chinese leader used the SCO summit in Uzbekistan to meet face-to-face with the Russian president. Given China’s strong opposition to sanctions against Russia and the urgency to acquire more supporters on the Taiwan issue, Xi Jinping vowed his readiness to work with President Putin and pursue their shared interests in defiance of the West, as Beijing and Moscow both perceive the SCO as a counterbalance to the US alliances in the region. “China is willing to make efforts with Russia to assume the role of great powers, and play a guiding role to inject stability and positive energy into a world rocked by social turmoil,” Xi told Putin during the sideline meeting. It is important to note that despite China’s publicly announced policy of restraint on Russian aggression against Ukraine, it covertly continued economic and political cooperation with Kremlin even before this meeting. To be clear about PRC’s positioning in the Russian-Ukraine war, it is not accusing Russia solely but the US-let North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which, according to Chinese perception, has provoked and manipulated the already tense situation between the conflicting parties. At this meeting, Xi Jinping reiterated PRC’s position and sought an assertion from Putin that war will not further undermine regional security. Nonetheless, on September 21, several days after this in-person meeting, President Putin declared the partial mobilization of the Russian military, and the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, announced the preparation of the first recruitment center in Moscow for foreigners willing to fight along with the Russian soldiers against Ukraine. It is unknown whether the meeting with Xi Jinping and the “strong mutual support” voiced by the Chinese leader involved the narrative of military assistance to Russia amid the Western military aid to Ukraine. However, Putin’s subsequent actions certainly give a reason to suppose so. Surprisingly enough, the same day, the Chinese leader gave instructions to the People’s Liberation Army of China for military readiness due to the escalation of the situation over Taiwan.
Noticeably, foreign interests are accompanied by Xi’s personal intentions and ambitions. On October 16, 2022, the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will gather in Beijing, where the party’s top leadership for the following five years will be elected. The congress is particularly noteworthy as the current leader, Xi Jinping, is likely to take a third term, breaking the “seven up, eight down” rule, according to which those leaders who are 68 and above are expected to step down and Xi Jinping has already exceeded the age limit. Experts anticipate that Xi is already preparing for the third term despite this political tradition, as his rule has dramatically transformed the PRC’s political landscape. His visit to Central Asia came ahead of the congress to prove his confidence in being the PRC’s most influential leader since Mao, heading the anti-Western alliance of nations.
Ani Kintsurashvili – Author of the Article, Senior Researcher, Civic IDEA
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
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.
After our Central Asia publication “Can Russia find more Friends and supports in War against Ukraine? Position and reactions of Central Asian Countries” we provide the interested audience with the compilation of tactical and strategic narratives coming from Beijing over the Russia-Ukraine war.