Turkish Ambassador to China Abdulkadir Emin Onen declared Turkey and China share a “common fate” and ‘common future” in an op-ed published by China’s state-run Global Times on Sunday. Last week, Turkey’s Andalou news agency signed a cooperation agreement with China’s Xinhua.
Onen’s piece at the Global Times was published on the 95th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey’s founding. He said Turkey has big plans for the 100th anniversary in 2023 and is on track to meet development targets for 2053 and 2071 set by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a path he found harmonious with China’s strategy for the 21st Century:
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.
Onen envisioned a partnership with China that would be based not just on lucrative Belt and Road infrastructure projects, but on shared animosity toward the United States:
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.
The Erdogan administration shares China’s animosity toward freedom of the press as well. Last Thursday, representatives of China’s state-run Xinhua news service traveled to Ankara to ink an information-sharing deal with Turkey’s Andalou Agency.
The Turks gave their Chinese visitors gifts including a handmade vase and books about the 2016 coup attempt against President Erdogan, which provided Andalou an opportunity to vent against the party Erdogan holds responsible for the coup, the organization founded by exiled imam Fethullah Gulen:
The Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fethullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Turkey ranks 157th on the Reporters Without Borders index of press freedom, while China is 176th, just four spots ahead of dead-last North Korea. Turkish media chiefs will experience the unusual thrill of being the liberal free spirits in the room when they sit down to joint editorial meetings with their new partners from Beijing, while their Chinese counterparts will soon know more about Fethullah Gulen than they ever dreamed of learning.