Follow the Past and Forge Ahead into the Future in order to Compose a New Chapter of Friendship
Published in InterviewThursday, 16 June 2022 10:15
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Georgia, Zhou Qian
Georgia is a precious jewel of the Silk Road. Located in the southern foot of the Caucasus and the east coast of Black Sea, it has been a bridge between the East and West since ancient times. Although separated by mountains and seas, China and Georgia enjoy a longstanding friendship which is well proofed by the ancient Silk Road. Both countries are famous for their splendid culture and beautiful landscape, and the common vision of pursuing peace, independence and development has made our traditional friendship to flourish timelessly and beam with new vitality.
On June 9, 1992, China and Georgia formally established diplomatic relations, making China one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with Georgia. Over the past 30 years, China and Georgia have always been good friends enjoying mutual trust and good partners engaged in sincere cooperation. They have worked together to usher the friendly cooperation into the mature period, promoted sound and steady development of bilateral relations, deepened cooperation in various fields, and set a good example of exchanges between countries from different regions and of distinctive sizes and cultures.
The foundation built on trust is solid. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the two countries have always adhered to the principle of equality and mutual trust, respected each other's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and supported each other's social system and path of development. With the joint efforts of two governments and peoples, the political mutual trust between China and Georgia has continuously getting deepened, laying a solid foundation for cooperation in various fields. The two sides coordinate and cooperate on the international arena, jointly safeguard the international system with the United Nations at its core, and make positive contributions to world peace and stability.
Sincere attitude brings mutual benefit. Both China and Georgia are developing countries, and both are committed to achieving national rejuvenation and prosperity. The two sides have always cooperated sincerely and pursued common development. In the past 30 years, the bilateral trade volume has increased by more than 400 times from the US$3.68 million at the beginning of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The Belt and Road initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping is highly compatible with Georgia's national development strategy of establishing itself as a logistics and transportation center between Europe and Asia. The mutual cooperation under the BRI is thriving. Georgia is the first country to sign a free trade agreement with China in the region. Since the agreement came into effect in 2018, it has continuously brought in increasing benefits, the level of bilateral trade liberalization and facilitation has been greatly enhanced and the integration of the interests of two countries expanded. China has become Georgia’s largest export market and is becoming second largest trading partner. High-quality Georgian products such as wine, mineral water and nuts are gradually managing their way into the vast consumer market of China. The China-Europe Railway Express continues to facilitate regional connectivity and injects vitality into the countries along the route, including Georgia. The railway modernization, combined cycle power plant construction and other projects undertaken by Chinese enterprises have played an important role in improving local infrastructure and have become conscientious projects that benefit people's livelihood. Bilateral cooperation in investment, communication, high technology etc. is witnessing broad prospects. The bilateral practical cooperation under the BRI and in various fields will continue to deepen and bring positive results.
Sincere friendship is key to inclusiveness and mutual learning. China and Georgia enjoy profound traditional friendship. The two peoples have had the tradition of mutual understanding and mutual learning since ancient times. In recent years, people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and Georgia have become closer, cooperation in education, tourism, sports, publishing and other fields has continued to deepen. The Georgian government has incorporated Chinese language into the national education system. The "Chinese language fever" continues to grow vigorously in Georgia. The "Chinese Bridge" competition is becoming more and more popular. The two current two Confucius Institutes and one Confucius Classroom in Georgia have become the base for cultural exchanges and thought collision between the two sides. Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia, also known as "God's back garden", became a new popular travel destination for Chinese tourists. The Georgian athletes overcame the obstacles caused by the pandemic to participate in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. They not only improved their results, but also gained the attention and affection of the Chinese audience.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, China and Georgia have stayed united in these difficult times, supported and helped each other. The two sides have actively cooperated in the fight against the virus, and demonstrated with practical actions that “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. The Georgian people expressed immediate support and solidarity towards China. With the strong support of the Georgian government, the vaccination process of the Chinese citizens residing in Georgia, ‘Spring Sprout’ program was successfully implemented. In the past two years, China has actively shared epidemic prevention and treatment methods with Georgia, and has provided an assistance totaling 200,000 doses of Chinese vaccines, as well as ventilators and other medical supplies and equipment. The two countries have overcome the difficulties together and jointly built a China-Georgian community of shared health.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Georgia. This is an important year that serves as a link between past and future. The two sides will jointly sum up the successful experience from the development of bilateral relations and make cooperation plans for the next 30 years. China will continue to work with Georgia to uphold the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, deepen pragmatic cooperation, and promote sound, steady and sustainable development of bilateral relations. Standing at a new historical starting point, the Chinese side is willing together with the Georgian side to forge ahead into the future, further deepen political mutual trust, expand the space for cooperation, and jointly write a new chapter of friendly relations between the two countries.
Boundless is the ocean where we sail with the wind. China has always regarded Georgia as a good friend and partner. I believe that loaded with the triumphant successes, the Chinese-Georgian ship of friendship will always maintain the correct course in the torrent of the times, moving forward steadily, helping all mankind to escape the shadow of the pandemic and war, and jointly building a world of lasting peace, universal security, common prosperity, openness, inclusiveness, purity and beauty, as well as enabling the two peoples to join hands towards a better future!