China, Turkey pledge to deepen counter-terrorism cooperation
HANGZHOU – Reuters
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before their meeting at the West lake State Guest House in Hangzhou on Sept 3. AFP photoTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed on Sept. 3 to deepen counter-terror cooperation.
Meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Xi told Erdoğan he appreciated Turkey stressing that it would not allow its territory to be used for acts that harmed China's security.
China "hopes both sides can achieve even more substantive results in counter-terrorism cooperation," China's state-run Xinhua news agency cited Xi as saying.
Erdoğan, in comments before reporters, said the emphasis should be on strengthening their ties.
"Fighting terrorism is a long-term issue, and is also a long-term topic discussed by the G-20," he said.
Xinhua also quoted Erdoğan as thanking China for its help in maintaining Turkey's security and stability, and that he hoped for greater counter-terrorism cooperation.
Turkey, a NATO member and part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has seen a series of deadly bombings this year blamed on the radical Islamists.
Beijing blames Islamist militants, including those it says come from a group called the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), for a rise in violence in Xinjiang in recent years in which hundreds have died.
Rights groups say the unrest there is more a reaction to repressive government policies, and experts have questioned whether ETIM exists as a cohesive militant group.
Officials in Xinjiang have stepped up regulations banning overt signs of religious observance, like veils or beards.
Turkey had expressed concern about reports of restrictions on Uighurs worshipping and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan last year, angering China.
Turkish protesters have marched on China's embassy and consulate in Turkey over Beijing's treatment of Uighurs.
The two countries have also jousted over Thailand's deportation of Uighur migrants back to China.
Hundreds of Uighurs keen to escape unrest in China's western Xinjiang region have traveled clandestinely via Southeast Asia to Turkey, where many see themselves as sharing religious and cultural ties.
Beijing says some Uighurs then end up fighting with militants in Iraq and Syria.
But Ankara vowed last year to keep its doors open to Uighur migrants fleeing what rights activists have called religious persecution in China. Beijing denies accusations that it restricts the Uighurs' religious freedoms.