الأحد , يونيو 14 2020

Erdogan in China amid Uighur tension

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visits the Seyidka camp in Somalia's capital Mogadishu 19 August 2011

Mr Erdogan is considering purchasing a long-range missile system from China

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in Beijing for a state visit to meet Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Mr Erdogan is leading a delegation of businessmen in talks expected to focus on economic ties.

But discussions may also cover Turkey’s controversial plans to buy a Chinese long-range missile system.

His visit comes after recent diplomatic tensions over China’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur people who have close cultural and religious ties with Turks.

About 100 Turkish business leaders and investors are accompanying Mr Erdogan on the visit which ends on Thursday.

The BBC’s John Sudworth in Beijing says the visit is a reflection of the growing importance of a trade relationship now worth about $24m (£15.4m) a year.

But Turkey’s current border crisis with Syria may give renewed impetus to its on-again-off-again deal to buy a Chinese long-range missile system, a plan that has caused alarm among other Nato members, says our correspondent.

The state visit also comes a few weeks after protests, some violent, in Istanbul and Ankara over what are perceived as heavy-handed restrictions by Beijing on its Uighur population.


Uighurs in Turkey and Turkish supporters demonstrated outside the Chinese embassy in Ankara in June

The protests were sparked by the deportation of a group of Muslim Uighurs from Thailand to China – a move that rights groups criticised saying Uighurs face persecution in China – as well as reports that China had banned Uighurs from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

China has denied such reports, and said the deportees were illegal migrants.

Who are the Uighurs?

  • Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims
  • They make up about 45% of the Xinjiang region’s population; 40% are Han Chinese
  • China re-established control in Xinjiang in 1949 after crushing the short-lived state of East Turkestan
  • Since then, there has been large-scale immigration of Han Chinese into the area and Uighurs fear erosion of their culture
  • Xinjiang is officially designated an autonomous region within China, like Tibet to its south

Who are the Uighurs?

Why is there tension between China and the Uighurs?

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