|Ambassador Gong Xiaosheng: Friendship and Cooperation between China and Turkey in Line With Our Common Interests|
Friendship and Cooperation between China and Turkey in Line With Our Common Interests
As far as the China-Turkey relationship is concerned, the year 2009 is quite unusual. The succesful China tour by Turkish President Gul marked a new height in the bilateral relations and ushered in a new era of cooperation. But soon the 7•5 Incident of Urumqi in Northwestern China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region brought about unexpected responses in Turkey, which cast a shadow over the cooperative relationship. Many of my Turkish friends came up with the same question, “Can the bilateral relationship get rid of the current difficulty and return to the right track of development?” My answer is positive, as I believe in the political wisdom and diplomatic technique of leaders from both countries to handle the complicated situation, and more importantly, in the solid foundation that has already existed for the two countries to build up long-term friendship. I have never lost my confidence in these.
1. The 7•5 Incident of Urumqi has put Xinjiang under the spotlight that attracted the attention of almost all Turkish people, but what on earth is Xinjiang like?
Xinjiang is a unique place in the world where different civilizations meet and merge, including the Chinese civilization, Indian civilization, ancient Greek and Roman civilization and the Tigris and Euphrates River Valley civilization. As a result, Xinjiang is blessed with multiple ethnic groups and a diversified culture. 47 ethnic groups now reside in Xinjiang, who work together to realize economic development and cultural cominuity.
What is Xinjiang like today? I would hereby cite some figures. Over the past 3 decades, the annual GDP growth rate has exceeded 10% on average, and the GDP per capita in 2008 exceeded 2900 US dollars. The economic development has laid a sound physical foundation for better conservation of ethnic culture, protection of cultural heritages and development of religious udertakings. A few weeks ago when President Gul paid a visit to Xinjiang, the accompanying Turkish journalist and MPs witnessed Muslims of different ethnic groups praying in mosques, saw the miraculous economic take-off in the region and experienced the coexistence and merge of different culture. When President Gul delivered a speech in Xinjiang University, the students and faculty members of various ethnic groups gave the warmest applause arose even before the speech was translated into Chinese, which indicated not only the closeness between Chinese people and their Turkish friends, but also the similarity between the Turkish and Uygur Languages. If the Chinese government had prohibited the Uygur people from learning their own language, as some has said, how could the audience understand President Gul’s speech? I believe all Turkish friends that have been to the speech would have their own understanding and judgment of situation in Xinjiang.
2. I’ve been asked by many, “Why did the terrorist incident of violence take place in Xinjiang just after the visit by President Gul?”
I understand the concern from most Turkish people about 7•5 Incident of Urumqi. The innocent victims of the incident, regardless of their ethnic identity, are first of all Chinese People. The Chinese people have felt more grievance and sorrow than any other nation upon the incident. Now Turkish media are making coverage in Xinjiang, and Turkish Ambassador to China H.E. Mr. Murat Salim Esenli is also going to carry out on-site inspection in the region. I believe facts will talk for themselves and finally become known to all.
3. Where does the future of China-Turkey relationship lie?
In face of the current twists and turns in bilateral relations, both sides have made the political decision to let go of the past and turn over a new page. The reason lies in the consensus that the two countries need each other in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, in combating separatist and terrorist forces, in facilitating a solution to hot issues in the region, and in pushing forward reform of the international system. Particularly, against the backdrop of financial crisis, the two countries, both being members to the G20, need each other in coping with the impacts of the crisis and restoring their economic growth. This has further enriched the strategic connotation of the bilateral relations.
Over the past 30-plus years since the establisment of diplomatic relations, with joint efforts from both governments and peoples, great achievements have been scored in bilateral relations. The visit to China by President Gul has set a new direction for the development of China-Turkey relationship. Mutually beneficial cooperation and common development have become our common goal. During the visit, 7 documents of bilateral cooperation were signed, with a total value of 15 billion US dollars. The visit paved the way for bilateral cooperation in the following 5 areas:
--Energy. According to the agreement on bilateral cooperation in the energy area, the Chinese government will encourage companies to invest in nuclear power, thermal power and renewable energy sectors in Turkey. Before 2020, Turkey’s demand for investment in the energy sector will add up to 120 billion US dollars. China can be a reliable partner for Turkey in terms of either capital or technology.
--Infrastructure construction. For the 15 years to come, Turkey’s demand for investment in infrastructure construction will reach 150 billion US dollars. Currently, consulatations on signing agreements on cooperation in infrastructure construction and projects contracting etc. are in progress between the two sides, and institutional arrangement on financing is being made for relevant cooperation.
--Financial cooperation. During President Gul’s visit to China, the Export-Import Bank of China signed Framework Agreement on Credit Line for Trade Finance with total value of 800 million US dollars with 3 Turkish banks, which will greatly benefit the development of Turkey’s telecommunications, foreign trade and infrastructure construction. According to the agreements, Turkish companies will have easier access to loans so that foreign trade becomes simplier. At present, several Chinese investment companies and banks have showed the will to cooperate with Turkish financial institutions. The bilateral financial cooperation enjoys a bright future.
--Technology R&D and Transfer. A batch of high-tech Chinese companies with international competitiveness are ready to set up R&D centers jointly with Turkish side and speed up technology transfer. Not long ago, the Huawei Corp. of China, which ranks among the top 3 in the world, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey, which enables Huawei to establish a R&D center in Turkey for the European and Middle Asian market. In addition, other Chinese companies like Qinghua Tongfang also plan to build up R&D centers in Turkey and work with their Turkish counterpasts to explore the European market.
--Tourism. With rich resources in tourism, Turkey is a world renowned tourist destination. It attracts over 20 million tourists from different countries every year, among which only 70,000 were from China in year 2008, while the total number of outbound tourists from China amounted to 45,84 million the same year. Considering the 1.3 billion population and continious rapid economic growth, the magnitude of potential China has for the Turkish tourist market is self-evident. Just imagine if one out of every 1000 Chinese people travels to Turkey for tourist purpose, the total number will be as high as 1.3 million.
In my point of view, in the situation of current financial crisis, bilateral cooperation in the above-mentioned areas not only benefits China, but also means a lot for Turkey which is striving to get out of the mire of international financial crisis.
China and Turkey, located at the Eastern and Western ends of the Asian continent, have much to offer each other in terms of capital, market, technology and geo-economics. As a result of this fundamental factor, we take a strategic approach towards each other. In spite of problems, we believe that the friendship will remain as the manstay of the bilateral relationship, and cooperation is in the long-term interests of the two countries. Any word or obstacle that hinders the cooperation between the two finally perish way. For more than 2000 years, the camel bells on the Silk Road that have resounded at both ends of the Asian continent have never stopped ringing and will last forever.