The top story on the websites of all central state media outlets today is the Xinhua readout of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to China, and meeting with Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 (English, Chinese).
In recent years, Turkey has never seemed to be able to really make up its mind over whether to firmly stand with the Uyghurs, who Turks consider their kin, or whether to sweep their current existential cultural crisis at the hands of Beijing under the rug — in favor of better ties with Beijing.
Even before the current crisis in Xinjiang, popular Turkish support for Uyghur causes has created tensions with China. In August 2017, Erdoğan’s foreign minister went so far as to announce that the government “absolutely will not allow in Turkey any activities targeting or opposing China,” and that Turkey would censor — or, in his words, “eliminate” — any “media reports targeting China.”
Then, in early 2019, the Turkish government issued a strongly-worded statement calling China’s “systematic assimilation” of Uyghurs via internment camps a “great shame for humanity.” Like previous criticisms, this led to a strong backlash from Beijing.
The news today swung the Turkish stance in the opposite direction, as Erdoğan gave a major signal of support for China’s Xinjiang policies during his meeting with Xi, according to the Xinhua readout:
Turkey stays committed to the one-China policy, Erdogan said, stressing that residents of various ethnicities living happily in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region thanks to China’s prosperity is a hard fact, and Turkey will not allow anyone to drive a wedge in its relations with China. He also expressed the readiness to deepen political mutual trust and strengthen security cooperation with China in opposing extremism.
In other Xinjiang news, the Guardian reports that Chinese border police at the Irkeshtam border crossing between Kyrgyzstan and Chinese Xinjiang “are secretly installing surveillance apps on the phones of visitors and downloading personal information,” including emails, texts, contacts, and information that can be used to identify or track the handset itself.
Photo via Nikkei