By Edmond Y. Azadian
On August 9, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Huilai headed an official delegation that visited Armenia for consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries. The guests attended the official groundbreaking for the new Chinese embassy in Armenia, which will cover 40,000 square meters. It will be second in size amongst diplomatic compounds in the former Soviet Union. Of course, we already know about the gargantuan dimensions of the US embassy in Yerevan, this nation’s second-largest in the world, after Baghdad.
In 2015, when President Serzh Sargsyan visited Beijing, the Chinese government went out of its way to extend to him the highest diplomatic reception, raising some eyebrows in world capitals as to why a country of 1.5 billion people would lavish so much attention on a weak country with barely a population of 3 million.
China established diplomatic relations with Armenia 25 years ago and during that time span, it has demonstrated an extraordinary largesse towards that country, donating a fleet of ambulances, street cars and agricultural machinery, among many other things.
A few years ago, the Azerbaijani government raised hell that Beijing had supplied Armenia with armaments worth $1 billion. The Chinese government announced that it would look into the news to find out whether there was any truth to that accusation. To this day, no finding has been announced.
During the embassy ceremony, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian announced that bilateral relations have been developing at a dynamic pace between the two nations. Some agreements were also signed in scientific and cultural realms. The two parties also agreed to begin direct flights between the two capitals. Nalbandian took the opportunity to thank the Chinese government for its balanced approach to the Karabakh conflict.