China and Georgia have been reliable trade partners and friendly countries. Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1992, the two countries have respected each other's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and choice of development modes. And based on equality and mutual benefit, their collaboration has set an example of equality-based harmonious cooperation.
China and Georgia have been collaborating under the Belt and Road Initiative framework, with Chinese construction companies actively involved in Georgia's infrastructure, trade, investment, power generation, and industrial and agricultural development projects. The two sides have implemented several high-quality projects, including railway, motorway, tunnel and bridge construction, which have created large-scale employment opportunities.
China is willing to assist Georgia in meeting its needs by, for example, purchasing Georgian-made greenhouse building materials, and brown marmorated stink bug control and other equipment. On its part, Georgia has organized three international forums on the "Great Silk Road" in Tbilisi, and established a think tank with internationally recognized scholars and experts to devise plans for the development of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The free trade agreement the two sides have signed, the first FTA between China and a Eurasian country, has significantly boosted bilateral trade. The present bilateral trade volume is more than $1 billion, compared with only $3.68 million when they established diplomatic ties, with Chinese consumers benefiting from easier access to high-quality Georgian goods.
It should be noted that in stark contrast to the overall decline in Georgia's foreign trade, Sino-Georgian trade increased 8.9 percent in the first four months of this year, and is likely to increase further.
China and Georgia both are great civilizations, and have long, rich histories. And both Chinese and Georgian peoples are interested in learning about each other's cultures and histories, and their cultural cooperation is thriving with businesspeople, scientists, artists, and writers exchanging visits.
Sino-Georgian cooperation in education, science, sports, film and television, news and publishing has been deepening, with the two Confucius Institutes in Georgia helping students learn the Chinese language and enhance their knowledge about Chinese culture. Not to mention the Chinese government gives dozens of Georgian students scholarships to pursue their studies in China. And if the Georgian government includes the Chinese language in the national curriculum, as it has planned, it will further boost cooperation in the education sector.
The number of Chinese tourists to the "God-given land" or "the homeland of wine", as Georgia is known, has been increasing over the years, with Georgia receiving about 50,000 Chinese tourists in 2019, up 50.9 percent year-on-year.
As China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his visit to Georgia in May 2020, "Vast waters spread out between our shores, and it is about time we raised the sails. "Wang also said that China and Georgia should be equal and open trade partners and investors in mutually beneficial ventures as well as partners in transportation projects, which the Georgian side supported.
China is committed to expanding cooperation with Georgia and implementing the important agreements the leaders of the two countries have reached. Based on the principle of mutual benefit, China intends to use the FTA to deepen cooperation and expand cultural exchanges for the well-being of people on both sides.
The pandemic-induced lockdowns and restrictions last year affected several Sino-Georgian planned events and activities. But thanks to the improvement in the situation, we believe the two sides will accomplish a lot more in the fields of education, science, trade and tourism.
As China's Ambassador to Georgia Li Yan said,"China actively shares its experience of prevention and control (of the pandemic) with the Georgian side. China has donated medical supplies and equipment to Georgia. China operates according to the concept of the community with a shared future for mankind".
Li also said China will continue to help Georgia in the fight against the pandemic and "further strengthen China-Georgia friendly relations".
The Communist Party of China is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding, and under its wise and able leadership, China continues to amaze the world with its remarkable achievements. As 2021 is also the first year of China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), the country seems set to perform more miracles, which will help strengthen its ties with Georgia.