Turkish PM Erdoğan set for landmark China visit

Turkish PM Erdoğan set for landmark China visit

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish PM Erdoğan set for landmark China visit

Prime minister Erdoğan (L) and China’s Vice President Xi Jinping are seen during their meeting in Istanbul on February. AP photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to fly to China on April 7, for the first visit by a Turkish premier in 27 years, hoping to persuade China to take a tougher stance against Syria and forge closer business ties between Turkey and the world’s fastest-growing economy.

The two sides are expected to sign a deal on cooperation in the nuclear energy sector, a move that would pave the way for eventual talks on Chinese participation in Turkish nuclear power plant projects.

 A joint credit fund for possible energy projects is also likely to be discussed.

Yunus İlkay, the secretary general of the Turkish-Chinese Industrialists Association, told the Hürriyet Daily News that accords on trade, visa-free travel for employees of large businesses and the export of Turkish foods to China could be signed, depending on the outcome of the talks.

Erdoğan will become the first Turkish premier to visit the autonomous Uighur region of Xinjiang, the first stop on his trip, where Turkey is planning to set up an industrial zone. The region’s Muslim-majority population, which shares ethnic bonds with Turkey, has long complained of oppression. Meanwhile, China has placed six men from the Uighur ethnic minority on a “terror” list, accusing them of involvement in terrorist training camps and of inciting attacks in the restive western Xinjiang region.

China’s Ministry of Public Security said the men, whose names identify them as Uighurs, were members of the outlawed East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), blaming one for orchestrating violent attacks in the city of Kashgar last July. In 2009, Erdoğan condemned unrest in the region as “almost genocide.”

In Beijing, Erdoğan will hold talks with his counterpart Wen Jiabao, President Hu Jintao, Vice President Xi Jinping and Parliament Speaker Wu Bangguo. The turmoil in Syria is expected to be high on the agenda. China, along with Russia, has resisted UN Security Council resolutions to increase pressure on the regime.

Erdoğan will then travel on to Shanghai, China’s economic hub, where he is scheduled to meet with the executives of major Chinese companies in a bid to lure investment to Turkey.