Eurasianet: China invests in Abkhazia?

Eurasianet: Китай инвестирует в Абхазию?

Representatives of several business associations, coordinated by China, and the cellular operator China Unicom this week held meetings with Abkhaz officials in Sukhum. As reported by the state news Agency of Abkhazia, the parties discussed the issue of creating a special trade zone for the production of cell phones, as well as the possibility of building a plant for assembling electric vehicles.China is already building a plant for the production of electric vehicles and implementing other investment projects beyond the de facto border in the rest of Georgia. Abkhazia, a large part of the international community considers it part of Georgia, but Russia formally recognized its independence, and actively supports the territory in economic and military terms.Realizing his plan to revive the “silk road”, China is becoming an increasingly important economic and, consequently, geopolitical player in the Caucasus. China’s major interest in the Caucasus is associated with the business, but it inevitably faces challenges related to regional policy.Putting pressure on Abkhazia to make it back under Tbilisi’s control, the government of Georgia tries not to admit foreign investors to the region and to strengthen international support for Georgia’s territorial integrity, with Abkhazia in its composition. Russia, meanwhile, is the “chief lawyer” of Abkhazia abroad and trying to attract in the region of investment and new supporters of the independence of Abkhazia.In 2015, China Railway signed in Moscow the Memorandum on restoration of the railway of Abkhazia, which was destroyed during the separatist war in the early 1990-ies and since then has been restored only partially. Thanks to Chinese investment was supposed to connect Abkhazia with the Russian part of the Caucasus, as well as to build Railways, ports and airports. However, the project did not work. Instead, the Russian troops restored only the missing sections of the railway network of Abkhazia, which Russia is operated and partially owned. Although today in Abkhazia to discuss Chinese investment, Georgia will prevent this.After the arrival of the delegation in Sukhum, Tbilisi has sought explanation from the Chinese Embassy in Georgia. According to the Georgian foreign Ministry, the Embassy “has confirmed its respect and support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia”. The Embassy did not make public statements about it.Despite good relations of Beijing with Moscow, China has its own territorial problems, which is to worry, and to alienate Georgia for the sake of a small investment project China is unlikely to be.