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Turkey seeks cooperation along Silk Road


Sun Zhuangzhi

G20 summit wrapped up on Monday in Antalya, Turkey. Following Turkey joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in April and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's China trip in July, Beijing and Ankara are forging closer ties with each other and embarking on strategic cooperation on the "One Belt, One Road" platform to realize common prosperity and development.

The two sides are expected to expand and deepen collaborations in trade and investment. Despite the long distance, China and Turkey are economically complementary. With the bilateral trade volume constantly climbing, Beijing is now the second largest trade partner for Ankara. As Turkey is witnessing an economic slowdown, the Ankara government is pinning its hopes on East Asia to boost its economy.

Turkey takes its cooperation with China seriously in every field, especially in investment. The advantageous geographic location and the market capacity of Turkey is also what Chinese companies value. China's investment in Turkey sees a rapid growth in various fields, including infrastructure, telecommunications and new energy. During his visit to China, Erdogan brought with him more than 100 Turkish businesspeople. This means Erdogan is paying high attention to bilateral cooperation with China.

Beijing and Ankara will reach greater consensus in politics and security. A strategic partnership between the two nations was established in 2010. Both leaders, in recent years, have been making sincere efforts to conquer the inharmonious elements in bilateral political relations. The increased cultural communications have laid a solid foundation for both sides to improve mutual trust in politics.

Turkey's stance over the Uyghur issue has undergone an obvious change. It publicly supports China in safeguarding national unity and territorial integrity. The Ankara government, following Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit, has accepted Beijing's ideas and stressed that anti-China protests are forbidden in Turkey.

The two nations are expected to have more collaboration over international and regional affairs. Turkey, for a long time, has been actively seeking to join the EU. In 2013, Turkey became a dialogue partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This is viewed by many as a diplomatic balancing act by Ankara, after the nation has been rejected by the EU.

By taking advantage of its cultural traditions, Turkey is trying to establish its status as the leader of the Turkic speaking states among Central Asian countries and has played an active role in building the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States.

However, Central Asian countries are following multilateral diplomacy and are alert of pan-Turkism. Thus the Ankara government has changed its policy and sought more cooperation with Beijing and Moscow. Instead of following the West to impose sanctions on Russia, Turkey has expanded its cooperation with the Kremlin in natural gas.

China and Turkey are constantly expanding both multilateral and regional cooperation. In 2014, China took over the presidency of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) from Turkey. Both sides have jointly enhanced the clout of the CICA. In 2016, the G20 summit will be held in China. The two countries hold increasingly similar attitudes toward major global issues and hope to safeguard the interests of developing countries in the international arena.

China and Turkey, both suffering from terrorist attacks, are eager to carry out close cooperation to crack down upon terrorism. Amid tensions in Syria and a series of attacks in France, both nations feel urgency of anti-terrorism cooperation, and are appealing to collaborate with the international community.

Turkey, located along the ancient Silk Road, is also a significant nation along the "One Belt, One Road" project. With the rapid change of the global situation, both China and Turkey are adjusting their foreign policies and striving for an international environment that is beneficial to domestic development. Ankara has shown huge interest in the Beijing-initiated "One Belt, One Road" and also welcomes the AIIB.

The two nations are willing to jointly build a community of common interests and destiny. The "One Belt, One Road" initiative brings not only economic and cultural cooperation, but also significant opportunities for both countries to build a friendly partnership and explore a new pattern of regional cooperation.

(The author is the secretary-general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Research Center, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. )

Friday, Nov 20, 2015 12:42 pm

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