Dragon and crescent in the Asian century

Dragon and crescent in the Asian century

The Foreign Relations Committee (DEİK) issued a comprehensive report on Turkey-China relations with an interesting title which goes, “The Dragon and the Crescent in the Asian Century.”

This report is one of the latest links in the interest in China that has distinctly increased with the mention of Turkey’s possible membership to the Shanghai Five.

I have witnessed that the interest in China is not only limited to political and economic circles. In a bookstore I frequently visit, I saw the book “Herkes İçin Çin Tarihi” (Chinese History for Everybody) in quite a few people’s hands. I joined them. 

Author Can Yolaç has lived in China for many years, he can speak Chinese and knows the history and culture of this country well. 

To be able to convey this deep culture and civilization to readers, Can Yolaç was granted a year-long scholarship by the Chinese government and has completed a master’s program in Chinese history at Fuldan University in Shanghai. 

Founding president of the China Institute Turkey (ÇİTAM), Rıza Kadılar, wrote in the foreword of his book “China” that the country “has become such a significant player in the world economy that it has become unavoidable now to understand China and have an opinion about it.” If you add to these words, the debate over joining the Shanghai Five, it is apparent that the DEİK report was issued just in time. 

The report has been penned by Altay Atlı, an expert in Sabancı University’s Istanbul Policy Center. It contains a nine-step road map for the sustainability and balance of Turkey-China economic relations. 

The balanced state is important because according to a 2015 data released by the Economy Ministry, the total foreign trade volume between the two countries is $27 billion. However, while Turkey’s exports to China are $2.4 billion, Chinese exports to Turkey totaled $24 billion. In other words bilateral trade relations are extremely unbalanced.  

For every export worth $1 to China, we import more than $10 worth from them. 

In the DEİK report, in case this trend continues, if the foreign trade target of $100 billion is reached in 2020, then this would constitute a yearly burden of $80 billion on Turkey’s current account deficit. 

On the other hand, the report also emphasizes that it is not a realistic target to aim for closing the huge trade gap in short or medium term. 

Well, what does the report’s road map say? Summing up the first three steps of the nine steps, Turkey has to determine target products in its exports to China, it should determine the items that would provide a high added value to its economy in imports from China, and Turkey has to decide on sectors that are likely to draw more investments. 

Otherwise, when 2020 comes, we might be at the mercy of the dragon.