Turkey and China: Building a common future

By H.E Abdulkadir Emin Önen Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/28 20:58:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Today, on October 29, we are celebrating the 95th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. Invaded by Western imperialist countries following the World War I, Turkey expelled Western invaders from its soil in the Turkish War of Independence led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. On October 29, 1923, the Republic of Turkey was promulgated and, thus, our country, which is to carry the Turkish nation possessing thousands of years of culture and administrative traditions to infinity, was founded.

Throughout these 95 years, Turkey was able to become a part of G20 that represents the 20 largest economies in the world and which China is also a part of. Today, Turkey is making strides for 2023, 2053, 2071 targets set by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The 2023 vision, which will be the centennial anniversary of our republic, includes various targets ranging from economy to infrastructural investments and throughout the process of reaching these targets the country is determined to move to the next level. As a next step, Turkey's 2053 target is aimed at making our country one of the central powers in a world system that will clearly become multipolar. Commemorating the millennial anniversary of the Turkish people's entry into Anatolia in 2071, steps that will render Turkey one of the leading countries of the world in every aspect are specified.

Similarly, the People's Republic of China (PRC) is moving toward targets set by President Xi Jinping which aim at eliminating poverty in the country by 2021, the centennial anniversary of the Communist Party of China's foundation, and establishing a prosperous country by the centennial anniversary of PRC's foundation in 2049.

In addition to this magnificent vision and determined targets, one of the most significant targets that President Xi proposed is the Belt and Road initiative. In the five years since its announcement in 2013, this project has transformed into one of the largest joint development projects in the history of mankind by involving 86 countries and becoming an international organization. The Middle Corridor initiative led by Turkey is at the core of the Belt and Road project.

With their thousands of years of history, the current representatives of the two most ancient civilizations, Turkey and PRC's paths have crossed once again today with the Belt and Road project after the historical Silk Road. After completion of the most important part of the Middle Corridor, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railroad Project, also known as the Iron Silk Road, last year, the negotiations held with our Chinese friends on the Edirne-Kars high-speed rail, which provides a new momentum to the Middle Corridor by connecting the westernmost and easternmost parts of Turkey, have reached a crucial point. We desire that these negotiations end in a positive outcome in the foreseeable future.

Another mega project we have been negotiating on with our Chinese friends is the construction of the third nuclear power plant in Turkey. We want to have a new momentum in relations between China and Turkey by completing these negotiations within 2019.

The common fate of Turkey and China is not only limited to the Belt and Road along with various other joint projects. We can observe similarities in the economic threats against our respective countries. Analogous to China being forced into a trade war through economic threats by the US, Turkey was forced into a trade war with the US. The most recent example of this war is the promulgation of quotas against the Turkish steel industry by the US administration which shies away from the free market's competitive conditions. However, despite the trade wars and economic threats, like PRC, Turkey advocates the maintenance of a free market economy, international trade under fair conditions and globalization.

Again, the usage of the US dollar as a threatening financial tool has shown how visionary Turkey and China were to initiate negotiations for trade in national currencies years ago. Expanding the currency swap agreement that came into force in recent years and spreading the usage of our national currencies in trade between our countries are some of our priorities.

Another important aspect of Turkish-Chinese relations which has shown significant growth is tourism. With the contribution of promotional events, we have realized as part of the 2018 Turkey Tourism Year announced in China, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Turkey reached 260,000 between January and August, increasing by 86.74 percent when compared to the same period in the previous year. We expect this figure to surpass 400,000 by the end of the year and reach the 1 million mark, which is a joint target of Turkey and China in the following years.

These positive developments in various fields ranging from economy to tourism between Turkey and China are based on perfect relations between the leaders of the respective countries which emphasize mutual trust and respect.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Xi have met five times and had a phone call in the last two years. Increased frequency of visits at the ministerial level between our countries will crucially contribute to further development of relations.

I'm very pleased to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey's foundation with our friends in the PRC with whom we are building a common future out of an ancient friendship.

The author is Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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