Originally published by Today’s Zaman, 31 March 2010
Starting with the second half of 1990s, Turkish-Chinese relations have had a considerable revival.
Along this process, officials from both countries have made numerous mutual visits on many levels, signing a number of agreements. However, the events that took place on July 5th 2009 in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang Wéiwú’er Zìzhìqu / 新疆新 疆维吾尔自治区/ have caused great anger among the Turkish public.
While China was protested by the Turkish public, the ruling government adamantly criticized the incident, with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan describing the situation as an “almost genocide.” In fact, looking at the incidents from a more informed perspective, it is possible to see that the situation is different than it appears to Turkey. While the harsh response of Chinese security forces to the protesters or the poor performance of legal channels deserve criticism, certain other facts have been largely ignored, such as the instigators being mostly Uyghurs and the majority of the dead and injured being of Han Chinese origin.
There are two main motives behind Turkey’s harsh response to the events. The first one is the government’s political concern to satisfy public opinion domestically. The second and the most significant motive is getting Beijing’s attention to focus on Ankara and showing Beijing Turkey is also on the field. In this manner, Turkey in a way was reacting to its “Chinese initiative,” which was started in 1997, rendered futile, and giving Beijing the message that the rules of the game needed to change.Continue Reading →