Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Is Turkey Pivoting to China?

By Michael Singh

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy - October 24, 2016

U.S.-Turkish relations were strained before the July coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and they have only worsened since. Turkish officials have made the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, who leads the global organization "Hizmet" from his home in Pennsylvania, a test of American commitment to Turkey, while suggesting that the U.S. government itself may have had a hand in the coup. The United States, for its part, has voiced mounting concern about civil liberties in Turkey and Ankara's viability as an American ally in the coup's wake. Turkey's relations with the EU -- already marred by Europe's de facto rejection of Turkey's accession bid and, more recently, by the Syrian refugee crisis -- have suffered as well.
Unsurprisingly, as its relations with the West sour, Ankara is reaching out to other powers. Turkey and Iran -- whose foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was notably supportive of Erdogan as the coup attempt unfolded -- have seen their relations warm in recent months. Turkey and Russia, whose relations cratered in late 2015 after a Russian fighter jet was shot down by Turkish forces, have restored relatively normal ties in the wake of reciprocal visits by Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin to St. Petersburg and Istanbul, respectively, in the coup's aftermath.
Yet both of these relationships are limited by history and geography. An insecure and revanchist Moscow, fresh off annexing territory on the Black Sea littoral, makes an uncomfortable ally for Ankara. And Iran, while an important trading partner, is more often opposed to than aligned with Ankara on regional issues ranging from Syria to Iraq to the role of the United States.
More promising for Erdogan than an alliance with Moscow or Tehran is one with Beijing. While they are already close trading partners, they may be poised to deepen their relationship as Ankara looks to hedge against overdependence on the United States, and as Beijing aims to increase its economic, diplomatic, and military engagement in a region that is increasingly vital to its interests.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Imen Belhadj and Sun Degang: China in North Africa: A Strategic Partnership

North African Politics: Change and Continuity - 2016-06-30 

There are two dynamics driving China's policies towards North Africa: one is geopolitical, i.e., China's political rivalry in the region with other outside powers; the other is geo-economic, namely, China seeking economic opportunities, energy cooperation and investment destinations for its domestic oversupplied products and its modernization drive.


Niu Song: Islam And South Korea's Middle East Diplomacy

Yonsei Journal of International Studies, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2016

Abstract: Military operations named “cross-border attacks” have become prevalent in international society. They are different from traditional war, which is fought among states. Generally speaking, cross-border attacks may be internationally concerted legal ones with authorization or unilateral and unauthorized illegal ones. From this perspective, the escort activities of Chinese navy escort fleets combating pirates in Somali seas are legal cross-border attacks aimed at safeguarding China’s overseas interests. They are a reflection of China’s new diplomatic thinking on sovereignty, internal affairs, participation in international institutions, and international cooperation. They also mark the transformation, and are a specific form, of China’s diplomacy. Cross-border attacks will be of positive significance to the maintenance of lasting peace and world prosperity.


Middle East Studies in China: Achievements and Problems

By Jin Wang 

RUBIN CENTER - September 5, 2016

In the decades since 1949, China has made major progress in the area of Middle East studies. These academic achievements are reflected not only in the great volume of publications, but also in an increasing number of Middle East academic journals. The development of Chinese Middle East studies has become even more popular since Chinese president Xi Jinping introduced the “One Belt One Road” initiative in 2012. Since then, research institutes have evolved from state-controlled propaganda offices into multi-dimensional academic and non-academic entities, and Middle East studies publications in China have evolved from providing a basic introduction to Middle-Eastern states to in-depth studies of various Middle East issues. China has joined existing academic institutions and NGOs, such as the and Arabic Literature Studies Association (ALSA), as well as establishing its own, such as the Chinese Middle East Studies Association (CMESA). However, while Middle East studies in China are now turning out a large quantity of literature, the quality is not yet up to international standards.  Middle East studies in China remains a marginal field, both in comparison with American, European, and Japanese studies within China, and with the prominence of Middle East studies in Western countries.


Cross-border e-commerce a boost for China-Turkey ties

Xinhua - 2016-10-15

BEIJING - Cross-border e-commerce is now playing a bigger role in China-Turkey economic ties as bilateral trade struggled with sluggish global growth and Turkey's domestic turmoil.  "We saw opportunities despite the crisis and expanded our business in Turkey while others adopted a wait-and-see approach, following a failed military coup in July and the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria," Hou Yibing, BD manager for Turkey of, a leading Chinese cross-border B2B e-commerce platform, told Xinhua on Friday.  "Our moves were bold, but should not be considered foolhardy, since we had undertaken a raft of research for our Internet-based business," said Hou, taking note of the growing number of e-commerce users and online sales revenue in Turkey.  It is estimated that there are 15.42 million e-commerce users in Turkey, accounting for one third of its total online community or about a fifth of its population, according to Hou.  World Bank data from 2015 showed that over 57 percent of Turkish are Internet users, making it the world's 18th in number terms and its Internet penetration rate is the seventh highest.  Turkey's Internet penetration rate grew over 10 percent for both 2014 and 2015, showing great development potential of its Internet industry.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Why China and Saudi Arabia Are Building Bases in Djibouti

by Joseph Braude and Tyler Jiang


China and Saudi Arabia are building military bases next door to US AFRICOM in Djibouti—and bringing the consequences of American withdrawal from the region into stark relief. 

Djibouti, a resource-poor nation of 14,300 square miles and 875,000 people in the Horn of Africa, rarely makes international headlines. But between its relative stability and strategic location—20 miles across from war-consumed Yemen and in destroyer range of the pirate-infested western edge of the Indian Ocean—it is now one of the more important security beachheads in the develo world. Its location also matters greatly to global commerce and energy, due to its vicinity to the Mandeb Strait and the Suez-Aden canal, which sees ten percent of the world’s oil exports and 20 percent of its commercial exports annually.[1] Since November 2002, the country has been home to Camp Lemonnier, a U.S. Expeditionary base—the only American base on the African continent—along with other bases belonging to its French, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese allies. (The United States maintains numerous small outposts and airfields in Africa, but officially regards Lemonnier as its only full-scale military base on the continent.)  But now there are two new kids on the block: On January 21st, the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry announced an agreement with Djibouti to host its first-ever base beyond the South China Sea, and construction commenced days later.[2] Though Beijing called the installation a “logistics and fast evacuation base,” the Asian power’s “near-abroad” rivals, such as Taiwan, opined that it is more likely the beginning of a new, aggressive military buildup to rival the United States. Six weeks later, Saudi Arabia declared that it too would construct a base in Djibouti,[3] apparently as part of its newly assertive policy of countering Iranian proxies politically and militarily throughout the region.[4]


China and Saudi Arabia Forge Closer Ties

The two sides are expected to finalize details of a five-year investment plan, minister says

By James T. Areddy


HANGZHOU, China—China and Saudi Arabia have agreed to a raft of joint development proposals, including construction of oil facilities and housing projects, and shared thinking about security risks during recent meetings, a top Saudi official said Monday.  “Security was a big thing between us and the Chinese,” Saudi Culture and Information Minister Adel al-Toraifi told The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in the eastern city Hangzhou. Saudi Arabia’s G-20 delegation is led by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who last week met in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping as a follow-up to Mr. Xi’s visit to the Gulf in January.  Mr. Toraifi said the two sides have given each other a year to finalize deals outlined in more than a dozen memorandums of understanding signed during the Beijing visit that envisage a five-year program of investments in both countries, plus joint funding into third nations he declined to name. He said interests overlap in the development programs each country is pursuing, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and China’s One Belt, One Road.


China to finance Egypt’s $45 billion capital city in the desert

By World Tribune on September 30, 2016

Egypt’s plan to build a glittering new capital city in the desert was written off by many as nothing more than a dream for a country with a struggling economy.  That dream, however, appears headed for reality after China stepped in to bankroll much of the $45 billion project. China Fortune Land Development announced on Sept. 25 it would invest $20 billion in the project. That announcement followed the pledge of $15 billion from China’s state-owned construction company.  Work has already begun for the as yet unnamed new capital 28 miles south of the current capital Cairo. The new city, located on a 270-square-mile slice of desert owned by the Egyptian army, would be home to some 5 million people.  City planners envision a city with skyscrapers rivaling those in Dubai, green areas comparable to New York City’s Central Park, an international airport larger than London’s Heathrow and an amusement park on the scale of Disney World.  Several hundred apartment buildings already have gone up in the new city, and construction crews are building roads and laying sewage lines.  The target for completion of the new capital is 2021.


Turkey, China agree to boost bilateral ties

Xinhua - 2016/9/29

Turkish and Chinese officials on Wednesday pledged to further promote bilateral ties that have been growing steadily lately.  Ismail Gultekin, Istanbul's vice governor, referred to the growing economic and cultural ties between Turkey and China over recent period of time, as both countries are playing a bigger role in the world economically and politically.  "During this period, we have also recognized the important role Istanbul has been playing in bilateral relationship as a financial and cultural center," he said in a speech delivered at a reception marking the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.  "We will continue all-out efforts to boost this relationship between our countries," added Gultekin.  Qian Bo, China's new consulate general, spoke of last meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan early this month on the sidelines of the G20 summit in eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.  During their meeting, the two leaders exchanged views and reached an important consensus on the harmonization of China's Belt and Road initiative with Turkey's Middle Corridor plan as well as on advancing pragmatic cooperation, noted Qian.  "I believe the strategic cooperative relationship between China and Turkey is sure to usher in a period of even greater development," he said, pledging close communication and cooperation with the Turkish side in the efforts to advance better relations.


Whither relations between China and Turkey?

By George N. Tzogopoulos, October 3, 2016

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Turkey. Two significant partners and powerful emerging economies – with a long history – are currently looking for ways to give new impetus to bilateral cooperation.  The economic data certainly seems promising. In 2015, the volume of bilateral trade reached US$27.27 billion. Although China enjoyed an impressive surplus, this volume is indicative of the role of commerce bringing the two sides closer. China is the third largest trade partner of Turkey, following Russia and Germany.  As it often happens, even between allies, political obstacles can overshadow harmonious economic collaboration. In a remarkable example, Ankara had to reconsider its initial decision to order an anti-missile defense system from China after facing serious pressure from fellow members of NATO.  This was not the only case where the two countries were at odds. Perhaps the most complex issue is Turkey's toleration – if not outright support – for Uyghurs living in the Xinjiang region of western China.


Turkey, China should further develop relations: officials

Xinhua | 2016-09-30 

Turkey and China should further develop economic, political and cultural relations, Turkish officials said on Thursday.  At a reception marking the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, Berat Albayrak, the Turkish minister of energy and natural resources, said that as the two main gates of Asia, China and Turkey need to keep developing the bilateral relations.  Albayrak, who attended the G20 Summit in eastern China's Hangzhou earlier this month, spoke highly of the city and the arrangement of the summit.  "All the members of the Turkish delegation kept telling me the great hospitality you've shown us during the summit in one of the most beautiful cities in the world," he said.  Mehmet Eker, the foreign affairs deputy chairman of the Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), defines the future of Turkey-China relations as "very bright."  "The Belt and Road initiative and other developing plans show that Chinese leaderships' vision is very bright. Turkey would like to be part of it. The cooperation and partnership of two countries are very essential to our continent and the world," Eker told Xinhua.


The logic of China’s Israel policy


THE JERUSALEM POST -  09/26/2016

The numerous Arab and Muslim countries that occupy vast lands and have huge populations are seen as an important market for China’s infrastructure building and industrial capacity transferring. Israel, located at the opposite end of the Asian continent from China, stands out as a small but significant Middle Eastern country due to its stability and economic strength. This was one of the motivations for Renmin University’s School of International Studies to cooperate with SIGNAL in establishing the Center of Middle East and African Studies. Israel’s innovative economy holds great attraction for China and its economic pivot to the Asia Pacific coincides with China’s view toward the Middle East and toward becoming a nation of innovation. This synergy of interests has contributed to the fast and steady growth of China-Israel relations for the last half decade.  As we look toward the upcoming conference addressing Israel’s China policy, it is worth reviewing China’s emerging interest in the Middle East which runs parallel to it ascendancy as a major global power.


Israel-China ties bloom with free trade talks imminent

Talks on eliminating commercial barriers to start soon, as hundreds of Israeli startups meet with Chinese entrepreneurs in Tel Aviv

By Iacopo Luzi

TIMES OF ISRAEL - September 29, 2016

Israel and China relations are reaching new heights as investors and entrepreneurs throng conferences in China and Tel Aviv and the two countries gear up for talks on establishing a free trade zone. In Tel Aviv, as part of the second annual China-Israel Investment Conference, around 500 Israeli startups met with 1,000 Chinese investors and strategic players, the organizers said. The conference was part of the DLD Innovation week that took place this week in Israel. The conference was an initiative of the Infinity Investment Group with the assistance of the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, after a similar conference was organized in Beijing in January.


Chinese-Israeli fund to invest $250m in med tech

Joint annoucement between Neusoft and Infinity Group made at start of China-Israel Investment Summit in Tel Aviv

By Shoshanna Solomon

TIMES OF ISRAEL - September 25, 2016

Chinese IT corporation Neusoft and Israeli-Chinese private equity fund Infinity Group said they would jointly set up a $250 million fund to invest in Israeli medical technologies over the next three years. As part of the cooperation agreement, Neusoft will also make available to Israeli healthcare companies its cloud database via which they can gain access to clients in China and obtain approvals from China’s equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration, the two companies said in an e-mailed statement. This is a first collaboration between Infinity Group, which is backed by investors and partners like the China Development Bank and Israel’s Clal Industries, and Neusoft, among China’s largest IT companies, which offers services and solutions to industries in the mobile, automotive and medical industries, according to their website.


Exploring China's new frontier ep.2: Muslims observe Ramadan with prayers and fasting

Reporter: Han Bin 丨  10-02-2016

We continue with our special series on Xinjiang. Around one in ten Chinese practice a religion. The principal religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and Christianity. Islam alone has around 21 million followers in China. And with some 25,000 mosques, Xinjiang is home to the country's largest Muslim population. China says it fully respects the freedom of religious beliefs, and that its commitment "cannot be matched by any other period in China's history."

The government also says it firmly opposes any attempt to politicize religious issues. China refutes reports by some western media that fasting was banned during the holy month of Ramadan. In today's episode, reporter Han Bin documents the last days of Ramadan at one mosque in Bachu County.