Analysts slam Erdogan over Uyghur comments

By Catherine Wong Tsoi-lai and Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2015-7-1 0:33:01

Analysts on Tuesday called for Turkey to refrain from interfering with China's internal affairs following the Turkish president's remarks on the "suffering" of the Uyghurs in China.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exchanged words on Twitter with opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader after Devlet Bahceli accused the Turkish government of being insensitive towards the suffering of Turkic peoples abroad.

"Everybody talks about Kobane, but nobody mentions the Chinese brutality in East Turkistan," Bahceli, using a different name for the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, said on his Twitter account, reported Istanbul-based news outlet Daily Sabah.

Speaking on Saturday night, President Erdogan dismissed Bahceli's allegations and said that Turkey has always kept its doors open to the Turkic Uyghurs.

The Turkish President also emphasized that Turkey has given residency and Turkish citizenship to hundreds of Uyghurs who fled "persecution" in China, and criticized Bahceli, who served as deputy prime minister between 1990 and 2002, for not paying any attention to the Uyghurs during his tenure.

The Daily Sabah reported that in January, Turkey accepted over 500 Uyghurs who sought refuge in the country.

Chinese analysts, however, believe that Turkish leaders should not let Chinese internal politics become a pawn in their own political games, which could damage its relations with China. 

"Some parties and people in Turkey hold feelings toward others with Turkic origins. But what the president said crossed the line and will strain relations between China and Turkey," Pan Zhi-ping, director of the Institute of Central Asia at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"It is slander and an act of interference with China's internal affairs to say China persecutes Uyghurs. What the Turkish government has done could increase the threat from terrorism in both countries since some Uyghurs have joined the Islamic State after traveling through Turkey."

Posted in: Diplomacy

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