Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Turkey Chimes in on Uyghur Human Smuggling Case

Plus, Zhang Miao, securing the North Korean border, and China’s nuclear industry. Friday China links.

By Shannon Tiezzi

THE DIPLOMAT - January 17, 2015

First, there are two updates on my previous story about Turkish citizens being arrested for allegedly planning to help Chinese Uyghurs illegally leave China to join terror groups in Syria and elsewhere. First, as The New York Times reports, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that ten of its citizens were arrested in Shanghai for trying to smuggle Uyghurs out of the country. However, Turkey’s statement failed to mention “any of the terrorism-related charges” raised by Global Times’ initial report. As I mentioned in my original piece, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson who addressed the reports earlier this week also ignored the terrorism angle. That raises questions over whether the Turkish group truly intended to funnel Uyghurs to terrorist groups, or whether this was a case of would-be refugees — which would make the issue far more serious for China-Turkey relations. Meanwhile, China Daily reports that China will “strengthen law enforcement cooperation with Turkey to combat terrorist suspects from the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region entering the Eurasian country illegally.” As a Chinese official told the newspaper, China “will work closely with [Turkish authorities] to investigate Xinjiang suspects who enter Turkey illegally.” China also hopes to increase cooperation with Turkish police to prevent “cross-border criminal gangs who help Xinjiang terrorists to cross China’s borders illegally and assist them in obtaining fake Turkish passports.”