Tuesday, July 28, 2015

China’s Turkish dilemma



Turkey’s geopolitical standing is like an oxymoron; it is both a liability and an asset.  It is a liability since Turkey is at the heart of one of the most unstable regions in the world.  It is an asset, as the very instability of the region makes Turkey a nonexpendable player, provided it maintains its relative stability.  That must be the dilemma China probably sees when it looks to Turkey: Is it an asset or a liability in its “March West” strategy?  In terms of connecting China to Europe, Turkey stands right on the route of the Silk Road Beijing wants to revive. Compared to its northern and southern neighbors as alternative routes, Turkey maintains a relative stability.  Yet, if China was to turn its head towards West today and take a look at Turkey, it would hardly see a bastion of stability. It will see a country where military planes take off to bomb targets in two of its neighbors and internal intelligence memos circulating about possible suicide bombers; in other words, it will see a country that is shaken by a wave of violence, both on its borders and within its borders.  Beijing must also see a confused, nearly berserk country when it takes a look at the Turkish policies on China.  In view of Turkish criticism of the Uighur issue, it must see a country throwing stones at others while it lives in a glass home. “How can Turkey be so careless in its criticism on the Uighur issue when it has its own separatist terrorism problem?” the Chinese must be asking.   They must be confused in what they might see as an “arrogant courage.” “How can they dare to bully us when they are so dependent on us, as they import intermediate goods, the backbone of their exports?” they might wonder.