Last month, the education and science minister Giorgi Batiashvili of Georgia signed an agreement with China to promote the learning of Chinese in Georgian high schools. Chinese lessons will now be offered to students in accordance with the national curriculum standards.
The deal will strengthen the relationship between Georgia and one of its main economic partners but may not be welcomed by Georgia’s powerful neighbor and former ruler, Russia.
An independence movement led to the secession of the country from the Soviet Union back in 1991, followed by internal conflicts for most of the following decade. After the peaceful Rose Revolution in 2003, Georgia became more pro-Western, which damaged relations with Russia and led to a brief war in 2008 and Georgia’s current territorial dispute with Russia over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia and many other nations consider the territories to be under Russian occupation.
This decision is said to show the government’s willingness to increase the use of the Chinese language among the working population in the years to come, to help augment the number of commercial exchanges between the two countries.