China grants visa-free travel to Georgians

China grants visa-free travel to Georgians
Georgia is talking to airlines about having more direct flights to different cities in China. / bne IntelliNews
By Tornike Mandaria in Tbilisi February 27, 2024

China has introduced visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia, allowing them to stay in China without a visa for up to 30 days, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze announced on February 26.

This follows a series of moves to deepen relations between EU and Nato hopeful Georgia and China, after the two countries signed a strategic partnership agreement in July 2023.

Kobakhidze welcomed the move, saying it will bolster Sino-Georgian relations.

"This is another important news and practical result of the strategic partnership signed between Georgia and China last year," he said.

Trade between Georgia and China from January to November 2023 exceeded $1.5 billion.

Economy Minister Levan Davitashvili said visa-free travel will lead to an increase in direct flights and boost benefits for the tourism sector.

"We have been talking to different airlines about having more direct flights to different cities in China. Only in this way can we generate a real, significant amount in the tourism sector," Davitashvili said.

Georgia already granted visa-free travel for Chinese citizens on September 11, 2023.

Despite Georgia's aspirations to join Nato and its status as a strategic partner of the US, the country has been actively seeking to strengthen not only economic but also political ties with China.

Following his first official visit to Brussels, newly appointed PM Kobakhidze met with the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia, where they discussed enhancing friendly relations and future cooperation prospects at a "strategic partnership level".

The prime minister recently spoke of “weaknesses” in Georgia's relationship with the United States, noting a lack of high-level visits, direct flights, and visa-free travel for Georgians.

Kobakhidze’s government's foreign policy agenda underlines the importance of the Middle Corridor, a trade route that connects Asia and Europe bypassing Russia, with Georgia having free trade agreements with both the EU and China.

Analysts suggest that Beijing is eyeing the construction of Georgia’s first deep-sea port in Anaklia on the Black Sea, with a Chinese-Singaporean consortium among the two potential private partnership bidders.