Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced on August 3 that his government, led by the increasingly autocratic Tayyip Erdogan, “absolutely will not allow in Turkey any activities targeting or opposing China,” Reuters reports. He also said that Turkey will censor — or, in his words, “eliminate” — any “media reports targeting China.”
Who would target China from Turkey?
- In a word, Uyghurs. It’s estimated that hundreds, or even thousands, of the Turkic-language-speaking and largely Muslim Uyghurs of China’s western province Xinjiang have made their way to Turkey. Turkey has long angered China by sheltering this population, and Erdogan himself had even in 2009 accused China of committing “genocide” toward its Uyghur population, Bloomberg points out.
- Beijing is concerned that some may have joined Islamist militants in the Middle East, though concrete numbers for this are even more difficult to obtain than for the Uyghur population in Turkey. Estimates of Uyghur militants in the Middle East range from 300 to 5,000.
So why the sudden move to please Beijing? Two things:
- Turkey is “keen to tap into” China’s ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure initiative that aims to link the East with Europe.
- Bloomberg highlights the larger strategic context: “China, Russia and Turkey have strengthened their partnership while Erdogan has pulled away from the orbit of European governments amid disputes over human rights and other issues.”
Turkey is not the only country that China has recently convinced to crack down on its Uyghur population.
- A month ago, Egypt detained and deported over a dozen Uyghur students, in a move that “seemed to be in support of the Chinese government’s deepening effort to stifle resistance” from Uyghurs within China, the New York Times reported (paywall).
- Just last week, Reuters noted, “A prominent Uighur exile was detained briefly by police in Italy,” and the man claimed that “officers had said they acted on a request from China.”
- Southeast Asia
ASEAN, China to endorse S. China Sea code framework this weekend / ABS-CBN News
China set for easy ride from ASEAN on disputed South China Sea / Reuters
What is the South China Sea code of conduct, and why does it matter? / SCMP
- Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia
China accused of ‘disappearing’ Liu Xiaobo’s widow / Al Jazeera
“The Chinese government is responsible for the ‘enforced disappearance’ of Liu Xia 刘霞, the widow of late Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波, her U.S.-based lawyer has said in a formal complaint filed with the UN.”
- South China Sea
China ‘coordinating with U.S.’ in South China Sea search for sailor / Reuters
China’s Xiamen port to tighten shipping controls ahead of BRICS summit / Reuters
- North Korea
China welcomes U.S. seeking dialogue with North Korea / Reuters
Tillerson to press China and ASEAN states on North Korea in Manila / Reuters
China ramps up rhetoric in border row with India / SCMP
China-India border spat casts shadow ahead of BRICS summit / Reuters
- Indonesian cyberfraud and Taiwan
Taiwan fumes as Indonesia sends fraud suspects to China / Reuters