Turkey’s Erdogan visits China to boost strategic cooperation

World Today

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference before departing for Beijing from Ankara Esenboga Airport, Turkey, July 28, 2015 (Xinhua)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Beijing on Wednesday, starting off a two-day state visit to China. His visit is expected to focus on Turkish trade links with the world’s second-largest economy.

Before heading to China, Erdogan said at a press conference in Ankara that Turkey seeks to boost ties with China at all levels, as part of a “strategic cooperation” agreed upon by the two countries in 2010.

Some media speculate that the deal on a missile defense system between Turkey and China is likely to be revived. The speculation comes after Erdogan said that his country is open to an improved bid from its preferred bidder China, in a long-range missile defense system tender, according to Reuters’ reports on Erdogan’s Tuesday press conference.

In 2013, Turkey chose China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp. as the preferred candidate for a military deal on a missile defense system, which prompted concerns from U.S. and NATO members.

This is Erdogan’s first official state visit to China since he became Turkish president in 2014, and Beijing is the first leg of Erdogan’s regional tour that will also take him to Indonesia and Pakistan.

On the ancient Silk Road, China was the starting point and Turkey was the end. During that time, trade flourished between continents and across regions, with Turkey serving as the central exchange post. China’s finest goods and products were sent to Europe.

That historic bond between the two countries has survived into modern times. As China now launches its One Belt, One Road initiative, Turkey, located across both Asia and Europe, is again taking the position as a key investment and cooperation partner that will help bridge East and West.

Within the country, high-speed trains between the capital Ankara and Istanbul, along with a new east-to-west railway plan, have created a strong infrastructure network that mirrors China’s Silk Road Economic Belt.

Turkey has risen to become the world’s 17th largest economy and an increasingly important destination for Chinese companies that want to trade and invest.