By Viktoriia Demydova
JTW has asked Professor Dr. Selcuk Colakoglu, Head of USAK Asia-Pasific Studies Desk to evaluate PM Erdogan’s China visit.
JTW: What is the significance of the visit of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to China?
S.C: The visit of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is very important in many aspects. This is another important step in the high-level visits between the two countries in recent years, starting with the visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul in June 2009. Afterward, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Turkey in Octoberr 2010; and, finally, last February 2012, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visited Turkey. It is expected that next year, Xi Jinping will become the next president of the People’s Republic of China. Just two months after this visit, Erdogan is to pay another visit to China. This is a very important visit showing that the high-level contacts between the two countries are going very well. Besides, many ministers, including foreign ministers, of the two countries, visited each other in recent years. So, the high-level contact is one very important thing showing the great willingness to develop bilateral relations further.
JTW: What are the main cooperation areas between Turkey and China?
SC: There are different important issues for the agenda of this visit. Prime Minister Erdogan was accompanied by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. He is a member of the delegation basically because of the Syrian issue. As you know, China vetoed the decision regarding an embargo on Syria at the U.N. Security Council together with Russia. China is reluctant to agree to any kind of military intervention in Syria. In this regard, during the visit, Turkey and China will try to compromise on Syrian issue. This is one important step. Another one is economic cooperation. Turkey and China have become more cooperative in recent years. Also, the volume of trade is increasing year by year. In 2011, the total trade volume reached $21.5 billion. This is a quite big number for international trade. And also, both countries are eager to reach $50 billion by 2015. The countries have cooperative and integrative economic relations. Moreover, there are some big projects, like a high-speed railway project in Turkey.
Additionally, there is a very important agenda for this visit, which is nuclear energy cooperation. Turkey is trying to build second nuclear reactor in Sinop. Now, Turkey is seeking to address the second country for this project. The first one will be built by the Russians in Mersin. For the second one, it can possibly be South Korea, Japan or China. In this regard, the visit to China is very important Turkey nuclear energy deal.
Another important issue is Xinjiang. The first stop of Prime Minster Erdogan was Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang, which is land of the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim people. In recent years, this region created some troubles for the bilateral relations. Now, Turkey and China try to show that Xinjiang is not a matter for them, and Xinjiang has turned to be not a problem but an arena of cooperation between them.