By Micha’el Tanchum
February 20, 2019
Turkey's recent stern rebuke of China's treatment of its Turkic Muslim, Uighur minority constitutes a stunning policy reversal by Ankara after more than three years of accommodating Beijing's policies in Xinjiang province. The Turkish government's belated condemnation of China's internment camps in Xinjiang was prompted by an erroneous claim of the death in detention of a revered performer of Uighur traditional music. The timing was also motivated by the mounting pressure ahead of Turkey's March 31stelections from growing Turkish nationalist outrage over the Uighur's plight. Ankara's reversion to the nationalist line on Xinjiang reveals the inherent limit of Sino-Turkish cooperation, as Turkish nationalism's core element of Pan-Turkic solidarity poses an enduring threat to Beijing's vital interests in Xinjiang and its strategic ambitions across Turkic Central Asia..
By Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak (vol. 8, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
Despite the importance and improvement of multi-dimensional Turkish-Chinese relations, Turkish decision makers have had difficulties reconciling their Pan-Islamic ideological rhetoric and the demands of realpolitik. While Ankara recognizes the need to form good relations with China, its self-assigned role as the protector of “oppressed Muslims” has, so far, trapped Turkey between realpolitik and the purism of ideology. Having acknowledged this clash, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has moved to neutralize the discord that has existed between Turkey’s national interests and its Pan-Islamic ideological rhetoric. Erdoğan’s new China strategy promises to pave the way for solid, stable relations between Turkey and China.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.