China warns citizens travelling to Turkey over anti-China protests

China warns citizens travelling to Turkey over anti-China protests

BEIJING - Reuters
China warns citizens travelling to Turkey over anti-China protests

Uighurs living in Turkey and their supporters wear T-shirts with fake blood, representing Uighurs who have died in China's far-western Xinjiang Uighur region, during a protest in Istanbul, Saturday, July 4, 2015, against what they call as oppression by Chinese government to Muslim Uighurs in the province. AP Photo

China has warned its citizens traveling in Turkey to be careful of anti-Beijing protests, in the wake of several attacks on tourists and restaurants mistaken for being Chinese in Istanbul.

The notice, posted on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website on July 5, said there have recently been “multiple” demonstrations in Turkey targeting the Chinese government. 

“Absolutely do not get close to or film the protests, and minimize to the greatest extent outside activities when alone,” the notice said. 

Relations between China and Turkey have been strained amid Turkish media reports suggesting that ethnic Uighur Muslims in China’s far western region of Xinjiang are being banned from worship and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

Ankara has expressed concern about the reports and also vowed on July 3 to keep its doors open to ethnic Uighur migrants fleeing persecution in China. This stance is likely to exacerbate Turkey’s row with Beijing over its treatment of the Turkic-language speaking minority.

China’s statement came on the same day as a group of Turkish nationalists attacked a group of Korean tourists in central Istanbul, mistaking them for Chinese.

The attackers were among the participants of a march organized by the far-right “Idealist Hearths” (Ülkü Ocakları), which has close links with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), to show solidarity with the Turkic Uighurs and protest China.

When the march that started in Beyazıt ended in Sultanahmet Square, a group started running toward Topkapı Palace, intending to attack a group of tourists who they thought were Chinese.

The police intervened and prevented the attack, using tear gas to disperse the group.

On July 1, a Chinese restaurant in Istanbul, owned by a Turkish citizen who recruited a Uighur cook, had also been attacked.

The attacked walked away from the scene after breaking the windows of the restaurant, Happy China, which was opened six months ago by Cihan Yavuz in Boğazkesen Street in Istanbul’s central Beyoğlu district.

Yavuz later told the media that he was a Turk and the restaurant’s chef was a Uighur Turk. The group of six attackers told him to leave the neighborhood and shouted that they “don’t want a Chinese restaurant here,” he said.