“Why Couldn’t Georgia Be God’s Garden?”
05 April, 2012
“Why Couldn’t Georgia Be God’s Garden?”

Exclusive interview with Ambassador of People’s Republic of China Mr. Chen Jianfu

Meet another Asian Ambassador Georgian Journal has talked to from a very faraway but very interesting country China. As expected, Mr. Chen Jianfu did not have much information about Georgia before. But soon after his arrival, he found out that this is the country that could well be a Garden of God, as the legend goes. The Chinese Embassy is getting ready to mark the 20th anniversary of establishing

the diplomatic relations between the two countries. He talked about Georgia’s increasing strategic geographical location, surprisingly cordial relations between the Georgians and the Chinese that he discovered here, he mentioned the things our peoples have in common – both Georgia and China being the food countries among others things…

 

G.J: When did you arrive in Georgia?

Chen Jianfu: I arrived in Tbilisi on October 19, 2010. I presented the credentials to President Mikheil Saakashvili on November 9 and I formally took my post in Georgia on the same day.

G.J: What were your first impressions of Georgia?

Chen Jianfu: Georgia had always been a distant, unfamiliar place for me. I started reading some materials about Georgia only after I was appointed an Ambassador. My first impressions were that Georgia has a lot of mountains, lot of trees, plenty of fresh water, and a picturesque landscape. When I was flying over the Caucasus there was a moment when my heart sank and I felt disappointment, as the Caucasus was so different from the Alps which was familiar to me. But as the plane drew closer to Tbilisi, suddenly the totally different landscapes, such as beautiful mountains and ancient buildings unfolded before my eyes. The Kura (Mtkvari) River was flowing through the city like a huge dragon, and the bustling streets were filled with the Caucasian scenes, and the truth dawned on me in a flash. So I thought to myself, why couldn’t this place be “a garden of God”, as the legend has it? Therefore, my wife and I felt very pleased to have the opportunity to live and work in Georgia.

G.J: What can you say about this country in general as a person and not as a diplomat?

Chen Jianfu: Despite the fact that we have been staying in Georgia just over a year, it has made a very deep impression on us. To tell the truth, I don’t think it makes any difference whether one talks about this country in general as a diplomat or as a person. I would single out three things that have made the most powerful impression on me. Firstly, the importance of Georgia’s geographical location, the fact that Georgia is located on the crossroad of Eurasia, and that it was the part of the world-renowned Silk Road. I believe that as the process of economic globalization intensifies, Georgia is destined to play an increasingly important role of a link between Europe and Asia in the field of energy and transportation. Secondly, I would single out the ancient history, beautiful landscape, unique culture and friendly people. Georgian people’s traditional friendship with the Chinese has especially moved me. Georgians’ warm attitude has made me, the foreigner, who has never visited Georgia before, understand and adapt to the life here easily, work in the “God’s Garden” happily. Thirdly, in recent years, under the joint efforts of Georgian people, Georgia has made significant achievements in building the country and improving the people’s living standards.

G.J: What can you say about the Georgian cuisine? Please, compare it to the Chinese cuisine, which is well-known in the world and to those of the countries that you have visited.

Chen Jianfu: Cuisine makes up an important part of nation’s culture. China and Georgia have different historical and cultural backgrounds. Therefore, the cuisines of the two countries are incomparable. We both have our unique things. Both countries can be regarded as food nations, because both countries have a wide variety of dishes, refined methods of cooking, diverse flavors. Both nations attach importance to the nutrition. But if we must speak of the difference, I think that the Chinese cuisine has more boiled, cooked and vegetable dishes, whereas, the Georgian cuisine has much better roast meat than the Chinese one. The Western cuisine is totally different from the Chinese, as well as, the Georgian cuisine. My favorite is the western pastry.

G.J: What is your opinion about the Georgian culture?

Chen Jianfu: Georgian culture has a long historical tradition. Literature, painting, music, dancing, all of them have made high achievements. “The Man in the Panther's Skin”, written in the 12th century by Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli, is a poem of world-class, and the works of Niko Pirosmani, early 20th century Georgian painter, are also the world-class paintings. But, for me, the most awesome was Georgian singing and dancing, among which the most exciting were men’s toe-dancing, a warrior dance with daggers and the world-famous polyphonic, harmonic sounds of Georgian cappella. Last year, we recommended the Georgian song and dance groups to participate in the International Country Music Festival. Their performance was quite successful; it received the praise of Chinese audience. In my view, the cultural exchange links our two peoples and builds the bridge of friendship between the nations.

G.J: How does your everyday schedule look like? Is it very busy?

Chen Jianfu: On the whole, the diplomatic life is rather diverse. I have to deal with different people, I have to participate in the events organized by the Georgian side, as well as by the other foreign missions, and I have to receive the delegations from China, or pay field visits. It is rather difficult to start and finish work at exact time every day like the ordinary people do. Being a diplomat means being busy most of the time, but I lead a full life. We are going to mark the 20th anniversary of establishing of diplomatic relations between China and Georgia on June 9. We have made considerable progress during the past 20 years. The areas of cooperation continue to expand, we cooperate more closely. Thus, our job is becoming busier day by day.

G.J: How different are your weekends from your weekdays and what is your favorite pastime in Georgia?

Chen Jianfu: The weekends are pleasant in Tbilisi. If the time allows me, my wife and I like to go to the countryside to enjoy the sunlight and fresh air and beautiful landscape of Georgia. Sometimes, I take care of the Embassy kitchen garden, or I go to the museums and galleries, or I take a walk to the art market. I really admire the variety of styles of Georgian oil-paintings.

G.J: Let’s talk about the Georgian political culture now. What are its main faults and how would your recommendations sound?

Chen Jianfu: The Chinese people generally do not like to discuss the political life of other countries. For me, as for the diplomat, it is even less acceptable to criticize or make remarks regarding other country’s internal affairs. We believe that every people has a right to choose the path of development that mostly suits their country’s national conditions. Of course, there is no garden without its weeds, but we believe that the Georgian people have enough political wisdom to choose their own path of development and build their own country.

G.J: What is your opinion about the Georgian media? What are its weak points?

Chen Jianfu: Georgian media has been developing rapidly in recent years. It has been covering the world news more actively and timely as well. I have interacted with the Georgian media several times over the past year. I think that the media is objective, sincere and it plays an active role in promoting mutual understanding between peoples. I would like to thank the “Georgian Journal” for interviewing me, and I hope that we will continue our co-operation in the future.

G.J: What do you think about the Georgian judiciary? Please, say a few words about the Georgian penitential system.

Chen Jianfu: I have not visited the penitential system of Georgia, so I cannot comment on it irresponsibly. But I am deeply impressed by the achievements in establishing social order and fighting the corruption. I hope that Georgia will have even more achievements in the process of building the rule of law.

G.J: Last but not least, what should the Georgian administration do first and foremost in order to develop the country in the right direction?

Chen Jianfu: I am pleased to see that the Georgian Government has been working hard in order to develop the national economy, improve people’s lives, tackle the international financial crisis, promote economic development, create employment opportunities, and maintain social stability. I believe that as long as the Georgian Government continues to attach importance to the needs of people and goes along the path of the development that suits Georgia’s national interests best, Georgia will undoubtedly be able to achieve sustainable development. I sincerely wish prosperity and strength to Georgia, and happiness and well-being to the Georgian people!

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