fbpx

China drops visa restrictions for Georgian citizens

26 February 2024
Georgian and Chinese flags in Beijing. Image via the Government of Georgia.

Georgian citizens will soon be able to visit China for up to 30 days without a visa, the latest in a series of diplomatic agreements between the two countries.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze announced the visa liberalisation act in a cabinet meeting on Monday, with Economy Minister Levan Davitashvili stating after the meeting that China would instate the visa-free regime ‘in a matter of days’.

Kobakhidze described the move as ‘an innovative and practical result’ of the strategic partnership agreement signed between Georgia and China in July 2023.

The agreement promised to strengthen political, economic, cultural, and international cooperation between Tbilisi and Beijing.

[Read more: Georgia seeks closer ties with China]

‘This is an important decision, which will make it easier for our fellow citizens to travel to China and create new opportunities for the further development of political, economic, and cultural ties between Georgia and China’, said Kobakhidze.

Georgia introduced a visa-free regime for Chinese nationals in September 2023.

Advertisements

Shortly after Kobakhidze’s announcement, Shalva Papuashvili, Georgia’s parliamentary speaker, said that the visa liberalisation act demonstrated China’s ‘attitude towards the people and the country’ and called on other countries to introduce visa-free regimes for Georgians.

Georgian–Chinese relations have been steadily warming in recent years, with Tbilisi courting Chinese investment in several Georgian projects, including the troubled Anaklia Deep Sea Port project.

Following the signing of the strategic partnership document, critics warned it could endanger the country’s relations with the West.

In November 2023, months after Georgia and China signed their partnership agreement, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili came under fire from the ruling Georgian Dream party after appearing to suggest that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping should face prosecution.

Zurabishvili’s statements came in an interview with French TV LCI, in which the interviewer asked her if she hoped Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin would face prosecution — Putin for crimes against humanity and Xi for the genocide of the Uyghurs.

Zurabishvili responded that this would be a ‘historic outcome that would put certain things in their place’, but added that she did not believe it was realistic.

Senior members of Georgian Dream were quick to condemn the president and defend relations with China.

A few days after the interview, Zurabishvili’s office held a meeting with the Chinese Embassy, in which they clarified that the president’s remarks only concerned Putin and that the ‘entire interview was focused on Georgia–EU relations, Georgia, and Russia’.

Read in Armenian on CivilNet.