China, Turkey set for 2023 vision and targets

China, Turkey set for 2023 vision and targets

The day when the Republican People’s Party (CHP) delegation arrived in Beijing, the Chinese capital was suffering from world-record air pollution, with the level of hazardous air particles nearly 40 times more than the level accepted as safe for human health. The sun was shrouded in haze reminiscent of science-fiction movies depicting a rather desperate futuristic scene.

Air pollution has nearly become a national phenomenon in China as the country’s leading cities and millions of people have been affected with no immediate solution to the growing problem. One of the most important reasons behind the pollution is the use of coal as the primary energy resource for both domestic and industrial use.

China is now looking for ways to reduce air pollution while maintain growth, because if the 7-8 percent growth rate is not maintained, many social problems will emerge, with unemployment as the most challenging. The current unemployment rate in urban areas is around 4 percent and an increase to 10 percent, for example, in a country of more than 1.3 billion in population could bring about many challenges.

The new Chinese administration, set to follow the Chinese Communist Party’s congress held in November, is prioritizing doubling per capita income, making it at least $12,000 by 2023. An industrial upgrade placing technological advancement at the core is being planned, which would eventually make the pie bigger for all Chinese people. While doing so, Beijing is also planning to narrow the income gap between the poor and the rich.
Planning to become the world’s leading economy by 2017 or 2018, China is seeking ways to reform its external trade. As its major markets, Europe and the United States are still struggling to survive from the global financial crisis while China is turning its face to emerging countries and their markets, with Russia and South Korea coming to the fore.

Turkey, as an emerging country and with its economic performance, should have better economic and trade partnerships with China. However, the trend in bilateral trade is growing to the disadvantage of Turkey with a nearly $17 billion gap and trade volume around $22.5 billion.

As suggested by CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu during his meetings with top Chinese officials, the best way to balance this is an increased Chinese investment in Turkey and the best medium to do so being the April 2010 Agreement between Ankara and Beijing that renamed bilateral ties as a strategic partnership.

Considering that the world’s political and economic weight is moving towards the East, it’s the right time for Turkey to plan an “Asia opening” to ease its access to this region. Although it may not be as attractive as its “Africa opening,” it would surely be in line with Turkey’s aspiration to become one of the top 10 economies by 2023.