On March 6, 2016, the Armenian Community of China, commonly known as ChinaHay, elected Mr. Mher Sahakyan as its new President, after its first President, Mr. Henri Arslanian, completed his maximum two-year term.
Mr. Sahakyan is a PhD candidate at Nanjing University and a specialist in the field of international relations, focusing his research on international security issues and political developments in the Middle East and the Far East. He holds a BA from the Faculty of Oriental Studies of Yerevan State University as well as a Master’s degree from the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia, and has completed studies at the Diplomatic School of Armenia, the Imam Khomeini International University in Iran and the PIR Center (Russian Center for Policy Studies).
In his inaugural message to the community, Mr. Sahakyan invited community members to continue to work together, launch new initiatives, stay active in community life and preserve the Armenian language and identity.
He also thanked the community’s first president by saying: “Henri Arslanian not only brought the Armenian community of China together but laid the foundations of governance, transparency and accountability that truly make our community sustainable and world class. It is our responsibility to continue the work accomplished so far.”
The Armenian community of China aims to become a role model for Armenian communities globally. For example, its president has to step down after a maximum two-year term to ensure that new ideas and new leadership are always brought forward; its board members may serve a maximum four-year term; and its accounts are available to the public on its website. It is also unique in having a board that comprises not only a balanced mix of Armenians from the diaspora and from Armenia itself, but also a strong majority of women – a rarity in many Armenian organizations globally.
ChinaHay’s new president, Mr. Sahakyan, has been involved with Armenian community life in China for some time. He has served on the board of ChinaHay since its creation and founded the Armenian Students’ Union of China, which brings together the growing Armenian student population in the country. Mr. Sahakyan was in ChinaHay’s organizing committee, which organized the events surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which took place in Nanjing last year. He also organized the Annual Armenian Academic Conference, held for the second time this year.
The Armenian community in China has grown substantially in recent years and has launched many innovative initiatives, including the ChinaHay-AUA Scholarship, whereby the community covers the travel, healthcare and living costs of Chinese students pursuing graduate studies in Armenia, as well as the ChinaHay-Gulbenkian Foundation fellowship, which funds academics to pursue research on ancient Armenian history in China.