Monday, June 13, 2016

Georgia: The Key to China's 'Belt and Road'

Georgia has become a major hub for China’s Silk Road plans, despite being left out entirely in the early stages.

By Revaz Topuria

THE DIPLOMAT - April 28, 2016

Better later than never? For Georgia, the answer is a resounding yes.
Back in 2013 when Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his ambitious Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road projects (also called One Belt, One Road or OBOR), Georgia was not even mentioned. That wasn’t surprising; Georgia was not a part of main route on the ancient Silk Road, so neither was it included in Xi’s new route. But things have changed rapidly.
Right now Sino-Georgian relations are at their peak. The two countries are negotiating a free trade agreement and both sides admit Georgia has a key role to play in the New Silk Road project as a hub between Asia and Europe. “There is no country in the region that is more open to Chinese business and investment, Chinese people and culture or Chinese innovation and ideas than Georgia,” then prime minister Irakli Garibashvili said in a speech at Peking University in September 2015. In an op-ed for China Daily, he added that “Georgia is Europe’s natural gateway to Asia, as it is Europe’s eastern most point both by land and sea.” Right now, Georgia is attracting China and plans to transform itself into a logistics and transportation hub to connect Asia and Europe.