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TI Georgia: Chinese Company with ‘Questionable Reputation’ to Build Anaklia Port

Transparency International (TI) Georgia, a local corruption watchdog, says in a report that the government awarded the Anaklia Port project to a Chinese company “known for corruption scandals,” raising concerns about the deal and its impact in the context of the country’s foreign policy course.

“Bringing the U.S.-sanctioned Chinese state company into the Anaklia Port project parallel to the adoption of the ‘Russian law’ marks the continuation of the shift of Georgian foreign policy,” the watchdog says. “The construction of the country’s international transport infrastructure has a geopolitical dimension alongside the economic significance.”

On May 29, the Georgian Ministry of Economy announced the selection of a Sino-Singaporean holding to build the deep sea port project that has been mired in controversy since 2020 when the government quit the contract with a Western consortium. The state will keep the controlling share of 51%, while the holding will hold the rest 49%.

The chosen consortium includes China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) and China Harbor Investment Pte. Ltd, a subsidiary of CCCC registered in Singapore. Subcontractors include China Road and Bridge Corporation and Qingdao Port International Co.

According to the report, since June 2021, CCCC has been under restrictions from the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for its ties to the Chinese military-industrial complex. TI Georgia says that while these restrictions do not entirely ban the company from financial transactions, they do require US government approval for certain dealings with CCCC. This means Georgia’s partnership with CCCC does not violate sanctions but does restrict the Chinese company from purchasing American-made components without permission.

The watchdog also notes that CCCC, a major state-owned Chinese firm specializing in large infrastructure projects, has faced corruption allegations in several countries, including bans, bribery charges, and project suspensions in the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Ecuador, Bangladesh, and Malaysia.

China Road and Bridge Corporation, a CCCC subsidiary involved in the Anaklia project, has been operating in Georgia since 2018. It has worked on the Ubisa-Shorapani highway section, funded by the European Investment Bank, and the Tsnori Bypass, supported by the Asian Development Bank.

The report cites the 2020 statement of U.S. Embassy in Georgia criticizing CCCC’s activities in developing countries, citing poor construction quality, labor rights violations, environmental damage, and unsustainable debt. The U.S. State Department echoed these concerns on June 1, stressing the importance of safeguarding Georgia’s security and sovereignty, along with that of its Euro-Atlantic partners.

TI Georgia also warns that the deal raises corruption risks amid the growing crackdown on civil society watchdogs.

Dealing with a company with a history of corruption scandals “raises risks of importing the corruption to Georgia, particularly as the current government is repressing non-governmental organizations,” the watchdog says. “The non-governmental sector is the necessary institution for controlling and preventing corruption risks in the country.”


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