China Boosts Turkey’s Foreign Reserves; Erdogan Drops Criticism of Beijing’s Treatment of Uighurs

CNS News | 8/12/2019 | Staff
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(CNSNews.com) – China in June transferred $1 billion to Turkey to boost its foreign reserves at a time when Turkey’s troubled economy was facing additional pressures over a controversial local election rerun in Istanbul, Bloomberg has reported.

The injection of funds, described by the financial news agency as “Beijing’s biggest support package ever for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” came shortly before Erdogan raised eyebrows during a visit to China by changing his tune on Beijing’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur (Uyghur) minority.

July - Visit - Erdogan - State - Media

During that early July visit, Erdogan was cited by Chinese state media as saying the Uighurs are enjoying “a happy life.” In fact, China has come under a harsh international spotlight for its incarceration of more than a million Uighurs in “re-education” camps in the far-west Xinjiang province.

Critics accuse China of using its financial and political clout to undercut other countries’ opposition to its more controversial policies. Turkey’s turnaround on the Uighurs has been particularly noteworthy.

Erdogan - China - Genocide - Xinjiang - Years

Erdogan in 2009 accused China of genocide in Xinjiang. Over the years since, at a time when most of the Muslim-majority states in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) were silent on the plight of their fellow Muslims in Xinjiang, Turkey continued to be an exception.

The reason is evident: Uighurs are a Turkic ethic group with ethno-linguistic and historic links to the Turks, and Turkey is home to the largest exiled Uighur community outside of Central Asia, some 35,000-strong.

February - Erdogan - Ministry - Statement - China

As recently as February, Erdogan’s foreign ministry in a statement accused China of a deliberate campaign to eradicate “the ethnic, religious and cultural identities of the Uighur Turks and other communities in the region.”

China bristled at that criticism, and its ambassador in Ankara, Deng Li, warned that criticizing a friend publicly was not constructive, and could negatively impact commercial and economic relations.

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