Sunday, October 2, 2016

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.