China–Turkey relations

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China–Turkey relations
Map indicating locations of People's Republic of China and Turkey


Diplomatic mission
Chinese Embassy, AnkaraTurkish Embassy, Beijing
Ambassador Yu HongyangAmbassador Abdulkadir Emin Önen

China–Turkey relations (Chinese: 中国–土耳其关系, Zhōngguó-Tǔěrqí guānxì Turkish: Çin–Türkiye ilişkileri) refers to the diplomatic relations between China and Turkey. Diplomatic relations were established in 1934 and Turkey recognized the People's Republic of China (PRC) on 5 August 1971. Turkey conforms to the One-China policy and recognizes the PRC as the sole legal representative of China. The PRC has an embassy in Ankara, and a consulate–general in Istanbul whereas Turkey has an embassy in Beijing and 2 consulates–general in Hong Kong and Shanghai. China is a founding member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization while Turkey is a dialogue partner. China and Turkey have maintained a good relationship throughout, despite the China's conflicts with Turkic Uyghur separatists. In recent years, regional and global cooperation between the two countries have also been growing, with both sides seeking for closer ties.[1][2]


In the 16th century, there emerged travelogues of both Ottoman travelers to China and Chinese travelers to the Ottoman world.[3]

According to the official history of the Ming Dynasty, some self-proclaimed Ottoman envoys visited Beijing to pay tribute to the Ming emperor in 1524.[4] However, no Ottoman sources substantiate any official diplomatic mission to China at that time.

Kaiser Wilhelm II was so alarmed by the Chinese Muslim troops in the Boxer Rebellion that he requested the Caliph Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire to find a way to stop the Muslim troops from fighting. The Caliph agreed to the Kaiser's request and sent Enver Pasha (not the future Young Turk leader) to China in 1901, but the rebellion had ended by that time.[5][6][7]

Turkish government officials received a Chinese Muslim delegation under Wang Zengshan who denounced the Japanese invasion of China.[8]

Korean War[edit]

in 1950, United Nations Resolution 83 requested military aid for South Korea following its invasion by North Korean forces, which were assisted by China and the Soviet Union. The 5,000-strong Turkish Brigade was attached to the U.S. 25th Infantry Division, served within United Nations Command.

The Turkish Brigade fought in several major actions, including the Battle of Wawon (27–29 November 1950), against elements of the 38th Group Army of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and Battle of Kumyangjang-Ni (25–26 January 1951), against elements of the Chinese 50th Army. The brigade was awarded Unit Citations by both South Korea and the United States.


On 28 November 2008, Jia Qinglin, China’s top political advisor and the chairman of the People's Political Consultative Conference, gave an official goodwill visit to Turkey as guest of Turkish Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan. In Ankara, Jia met Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After visiting Ankara, Jia attended a business forum entitled "Turkish-Chinese Economic and Commercial Opportunities Forum" in İstanbul.[9]

Turkish President Abdullah Gül has become the first Turkish president to visit China in 14 years with his official visit between on 24–29 June 2009.[10][11] Gül said one of the major goals of his visit was to boost economic relations.[12] In Beijing, Gül hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao and attended a Turkey-China business forum.[13] Following the meetings, seven cooperation agreements were signed between the two countries in the fields of energy, banking, finance and culture.[14] After Beijing, Gül visited Xian, and he was awarded with an honorary doctorate by the Xian Northwest University.[15] In the third leg of his China trip, Gül visited Shenzhen.[16] Upon an invitation of the Beijing administration, Gül also visited Ürümqi, and has become the first Turkish president visiting Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.[17]

2009 riots[edit]

Initially in response to the July 2009 Ürümqi riots, the Foreign Ministry of Turkey urged the Chinese authorities to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.[18] But some officials disagreed: a deputy from ruling Justice & Development (AK) Party resigned from the Turkey-China Interparliamentary Friendship Group,[19] and in his personal capacity, Turkey's industry and trade minister called on Turks to boycott Chinese goods to protest the continuing ethnic violence,[20][21] to which the Chinese chargé d'affaires in Ankara expressed "surprise".[22] After daily demonstrations in Ankara and Istanbul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan strengthened his rhetoric and said "These incidents in China are as if they are genocide. We ask the Chinese government not to remain a spectator to these incidents."[23] China demanded that Recep Tayyip Erdogan retract his accusation; editorials in the state-run China Daily pointed out that 137 of the 184 victims of the unrest were Han Chinese.[24] A phone conversation between China and Turkey's respective foreign ministers reaffirmed the importance of Turkish-Chinese relations, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey did not intend "to interfere with the domestic affairs of China".[25]

2015 anti-China protests in Turkey[edit]

On 4 July 2015, 2,000 Turkish nationalists protesting against China fasting ban mistakenly attack Korean tourists in Istanbul which led to China issuing travel warning to its citizens traveling to Turkey.[26][27] Devlet Bahçeli, a leader from Turkey's MHP (Nationalist Movement Party), said that the attacks by MHP affiliated Turkish youth on South Korean tourists were "understandable", telling the Turkish news paper Hurriyet that: "What feature differentiates a Korean from a Chinese? They see that they both have slanted eyes. How can they tell the difference?".[28] Another translation of his remarks was : "What is the difference between a Korean and a Chinese anyway? They both have slitty eyes. Does it make any difference?"[29][30] A Uighur staffed, Turkish owned Chinese restaurant was assaulted by Turkish nationalists, who have also attacked the Dutch consulate which they thought was the Russian consulate.[31][32] Anti-Chinese violence in Turkey motivated by Chinese treatment of Uyghurs targets believed Chinese nationals, but often these nationals are Uyghurs holding Chinese citizenship.


On 7 October 2010, China and Turkey signed eight cooperation agreements relating to trade, cultural and technical exchange, marine cooperation, and other things. At the signing ceremony attended by both of the countries' prime ministers, both pledged to increase bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2015, and to cooperate in building high-speed rail to link Ankara to Istanbul.[33] Later in November, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu toured China for six days and met with his counterpart Yang Jiechi, after Chinese premier Wen Jiabao visited Turkey and upgraded the China–Turkey relationship to a "strategic partnership". Among the joint pledges the foreign ministers made in China were to start a Turkish industrial zone in Xinjiang[34] and to jointly crack down on separatism and terrorism, including on anti-China separatist activities in Turkey.[35] Commentators have cited these stronger ties as further proof of a realignment of Turkish foreign policy to the "East".[34]

Rebiya Kadeer claimed that Turkey is hampered from interfering with Uyghurs because Turkey recognizes its own Kurdish issue problems, which China may interfere with in retaliation.[36]

In February 2019, the Spokesperson of the Turkish Foreign Ministry denounced China for "violating the fundamental human rights of Uyghur Turks and other Muslim communities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region."[37][38]

In April 2019, China was the first country to congratulate Ekrem İmamoğlu after he became the mayor of Istanbul.[39] Ekrem İmamoğlu told the Chinese Consul General in Istanbul Cui Wei that the political, economic, trade and cultural relations between China and Turkey are very good and important.[40]

In July 2019, when Turkish President Erdogan visited China, he said “It is a fact that the people of all ethnicities in Xinjiang are leading a happy life amid China's development and prosperity.”[41] Erdogan also said that some people were seeking to "abuse" the Xinjiang crisis to jeopardize Turkey and China's economic relationship.[42][43][44] Beijing also invited Turkish reporters to Xinjiang to tour the camps. The reporters described it as a model for counter-terrorism and a paradise for the Uyghur minority.[45] A delegation from the Turkish Foreign Ministry is also expected to visit the camps.[46]

Xinjiang conflict[edit]

Turkish connections were used by Uyghur fighters to go into Syria and the humanitarian Uyghur East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association (ETESA) which is located in Turkey sent Uyghurs into Syria, endorsed the killing of the pro-China Imam Juma Tayir, applauded attacks in China, and posted on its website content from the TIP.[47]

Turkey has officially designated the East Turkistan Islamic Movement as a terrorist organization.[48]

In recent years, China and Turkey increased cooperation against separatist movements in Xinjiang.[49] Turkey has also significantly increased deportations of Uyghurs to China.[50][51]

AKP opinions on the Xinjiang conflict[edit]

The ruling AKP in power in Turkey has different factions; some of which are nationalists who want to inflame tensions with China over Uyghurs, and other members who want to maintain good relations with China and believe the Uyghur issue is being abused to spoil relations between China and Turkey by the United States. Some Islamist AKP members have accused Rebiya Kadeer of being an "American agent" and "infidel".[52] Turkey has had to follow its own country's interests first with a pragmatic approach to the situation of Turkic peoples in other countries like Uyghurs, Gagauz, and Crimean Tatars.[53] In recent years, those who want to maintain relations with China have gained the upper hand.

Economic relations[edit]

In recent years, the economic relationship between Turkey and China have grown rapidly.[54] In 2000, the total bilateral trade volume between China and Turkey exceeded 1 billion USD for the first time.[54] In 2009, the bilateral trade between China and Turkey totaled US$10.079 billion.[54] China is Turkey's biggest import partner. Turkey is an active member of the Belt and Road Initative program.

Cultural relations[edit]

The People's Republic of China and Turkey signed a cultural cooperation agreement in November 1993. The exchange programs include sports, education and news.[55]

2018 was the "Year of Turkey" in China.[56] A song created by Xiao Zhang called "I want to take you to romantic Turkey" became one of the most popular songs in China.[57][58] Chinese tourists to Turkey increased from 98 thousand in 2011 to 300 thousand in 2015[55] and to 400 thousand in 2018,[59] marking a 537% increase in the last 10 years. The Turkish government is expecting this number to go up to 1 million in the following years.[59]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]