Thursday, August 25, 2016

After the Failed Coup: A New Dawn for China-Turkey Relations?

As Ankara reexamines its post-coup foreign policy priorities, China-Turkey relations have an opportunity to blossom.

By Wang Jin

THE DIPLOMAT - August 10, 2016

More than half a month after the attempted Turkish military coup in mid-July, China sent Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming to Turkey. Zhang’s visit was meant to help China learn about Turkey’s domestic situation and foster an in-depth exchange of views with the Turkish side on China-Turkey relations as well as international and regional issues of shared interest.  Zhang’s visit attracted considerable attention in China because he was the first senior Chinese representative to visit Turkey since the attempted military coup in Turkey, which almost ousted the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Although it came more than two weeks after the failed coup, Zhang’s visit was still timely. On the one hand, along with other states, China needed time to closely observe the political trends inside Turkey and waited until the proper time to send its representative. On the other hand, for China, the decision to send a vice foreign minister to Turkey within half a month is comparatively fast. It usually takes a long time before a final decision is made given the complicated foreign policymaking system in China, which consists of not only China Foreign Ministry from the government, but also the Foreign Affairs Office of Communist Party of China (CPC).  For this visit, China chose Zhang Ming, a relatively senior representative (a vice foreign minister, but not Minister Wang Yi or another, higher-ranking representative) who is familiar with the Middle East (Zhang has been working for China’s foreign ministry on Middle East affairs for decades). The choice suggests China is cautious in approaching Ankara given the political chaos inside Turkey.