Turkey can say thank you to its Chinese big brother

Ankara no longer defends Uighur Muslims in China. In return, Beijing has become Turkey’s last great ally and is investing heavily in all sectors. Valuable support.

In the past, when he openly supported the Uighur minority, the Turkish-speaking Muslim people of Xinjiang, victims of terrible human rights violations, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a knack for bristling with Beijing. “Frankly speaking, the incidents in China are genocide”, he had launched in 2009, when he was Prime Minister.

And it was not just empty words: Turkey has served as a refuge for Uighurs fleeing persecution since the day the Chinese Communist Party took control of Xinjiang. [dans l’ouest de la Chine] in 1949, and it hosts one of the largest Uighur diasporas in the world.

Hundreds of Uighurs expelled

Then Ankara abruptly changed its tune. In 2016, Turkey arrested Abdulkadir Yapcan, a famous Uighur political activist who had lived in the country since 2001, and initiated extradition proceedings. In 2017, Turkey and China signed an agreement that allows extradition. Since the start of 2019, Ankara has arrested hundreds of Uighurs and placed them in deportation centers.

This astonishing reversal of Erdogan has a very simple explanation: his regime and the Turkish economy are in crisis. His friends are scarce, Ankara is counting on Beijing to help him recover, which implies an adherence to the rhetoric of Chinese power.

Because the problems accumulate for Erdogan. The country’s economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, which devastated its tourism sector, one of its pillars. As Erdogan tightens his control over the central bank and the courts, foreign currency reserves are dwindling, the trade deficit is growing and the Turkish lira is in free fall.


Ayca AlemdarogluSultan Tepe

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