China trip adds ‘vision’ to CHP foreign policy

China trip adds ‘vision’ to CHP foreign policy

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
China trip adds ‘vision’ to CHP foreign policy

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s visit to China helped his party’s foreign drive.

Amid sound and fury over newly launched talks between the government and jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the main opposition party left Turkey for a week-long trip to China, leaving all hot domestic political issues behind, leading many to wonder, “Was it worth it?”

As a journalist who joined the trip and could observe the Republican People’s Party (CHP) experience in China, my answer is a “strong yes.” The most important result of the visit, to me, is that it has proven that the CHP’s foreign policy has a clear vision of world affairs, negating the ruling party’s criticisms that it cannot read the “flow of history.”

Given the fact that opposition party leaders rarely visits abroad and follow global issues, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s decision to positively respond to the Chinese Communist Party’s invitation separates the CHP from other political parties with its farsighted approach.

China will become the world’s leading economy by 2016 to 2017, according to OECD estimates, and will become one of the most important actors in shaping global and regional affairs in the coming decades.

Its influence is expected to reach out to Turkey’s near abroad, particularly to the Middle East, as its giant economy will need more energy to maintain growth. Many analysts agree that China will have to deal more with energy security in the coming decades as the United States will likely be less interested in the Middle East given that it will depend less on foreign oil and gas imports.

Turkish-Chinese business forum

The CHP’s visit came two months before Xi Jinping is set to take his position as the new Chinese president and at a moment when the Chinese Communist Party is mulling new reforms to keep the economy growing. Another very important point was the fact that the CHP delegation included around 50 businessmen and that a joint business forum took place. As far as I know, this was another first from an opposition party. Turkish businessmen were able to meet with Chinese counterparts and make some contracts as well.

“Businessmen are very satisfied with the meetings. They have expressed their intention to participate in future CHP trips as well,” the CHP head said.

The economy was the leading topic during the official meetings, and Kılıçdaroğlu demanded more investment from China in Turkey, particularly in the field of technology to compensate for the huge trade disadvantage. He also suggested cultural exchange programs and shooting joint movies that would help make Turks and Chinese learn more about each other.

Tourism will also play a role to this end. The suggestions Kılıçdaroğlu made were no different from the Turkish government’s expectations from China.

“What we are doing is to contribute to the Turkish people. We don’t say anything different from the state’s policy regarding China. We, as the CHP, support strategic relations with China,” he said, during our chat on board a cruise boat on the Huangpu River in Shanghai.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s messages in the Xinjiang-Uighur region were also very balanced and cautious to avoid violating Turkey’s sensitive policy. The social democratic leader recalled that they would submit a report on their visit to the Foreign Ministry with their suggestions to further boost bilateral ties. The CHP’s next abroad visit is expected to be Egypt upon the invitation of President Mohamed Morsi.

The architects of the visit were two deputy leaders, Erdoğan Toprak and Faruk Loğoğlu. Special compliments must go to Turkey’s ambassador to China, Murat Esenli, who did his best in hosting the delegation.