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HomeGlobal Perspective & Critical ResearchOpportunities and Challenges in Turkish and Chinese Bilateral Relationship

Opportunities and Challenges in Turkish and Chinese Bilateral Relationship

Author: Ahmet Faruk ISIK

Affiliation:  Torino World Affairs Institute

Organization/Publisher: International Journal of Politics and Security

Date/Place: July 2020

Type of Literature: Academic paper

Number of Pages: 38


Keywords: Turkey, China, Economy, Uighur


This paper gives an overview of the bilateral relations between Turkey and China with a focus on opportunities and challenges. The author argues Turkey wants to see China as a “political supporter” in its “precious loneliness” against its Western allies given that Beijing is one of the most influential members of the UN Security Council; however, on a win-win basis. The author argues that the main cause of mutual distrust between the two states is China’s focus on the strategic value of Turkey in security, while Turkey’s attention is on economic partnership. Referring to the major issue of Uighur rights, the paper says although China has expressed its respect to Turkey’s territorial integrity, that Beijing may yet use the outlawed PKK against Ankara. The author bases his argument on the Chinese Communist Party’s 2015 invitation to People’s Democratic Party (HDP) – a supporter of PKK.  Public diplomacy is a common ground for the two sides and Turkey showed it when it helped Chinese citizens living in Libya. The author also claims that the visit by top Chinese foreign ministry officials after the 2016 failed military coup generated goodwill towards China on the Turkish side. Turkey has been admitted as “dialogue partner” of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization led by China, while cooperation on technology has also improved in the last decade between the two sides. Regarding Turkey’s role in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the author says Turkey may both benefit and face risks as Chinese investment is gradually increasing in the country with over 1000 companies. Due to the geopolitical significance of Turkey on the world map, Ankara is an important player in BRI.  However, the stance of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the Uighur human rights issue has China in doldrums. Referring to his Istanbul mayoral days, the author relates how Erdoğan named a public park in Istanbul after a Uighur independence movement leader in East Turkistan, what China calls Xinjiang. 

By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-Resident Research Associate



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