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17-01-2012

ECMI publishes Chinese in Georgia

by Jiayi Zhou, ECMI Working Paper #54

ECMI is pleased to announce publication of Chinese in Georgia, by Jiayi Zhou, ECMI Working Paper #54. This working paper can be found here. In the two decades after independence, Georgia's open economy and lax immigration policies have engendered, for the first time, immigration from far outside of the region. On the streets of Tbilisi, the most conspicuous of these migrants are from India, China, and the countries of Africa. Of those from India, a substantial number are students of medicine, or enrolled in other professional courses. Africans in Georgia are mostly driven by work opportunity with a few students in higher education institutions. Chinese immigrants, on the other hand, are almost entirely driven by economic opportunities. A modern Chinese presence in Georgia began in the 1990s with the beginning of Chinese state-owned investment ventures in the region, as well as a burgeoning restaurant scene. In 2000s, this expanded to encompass a trickle and then an influx of Chinese migrant shop owners and market vendors. The third wave of migration occurred in 2010 as a result of contract construction workers. As of today, there are around 1,000 Chinese in Georgia now divided into five groups: specialists, businessmen, shopkeepers, contract workers, and those in the restaurant and catering sector. This paper will focus on the history of Chinese migrants in Georgia, driving causes, their level of integration (or lack thereof), vulnerabilities, and their status in Georgian society. It will also cover increasingly large-scale Chinese economic ventures in the country, the status of Chinese as a foreign language in Georgia, and the role of the PRC Embassy in the Chinese community.

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