Skip to main content

Will Uighurs upend Turkey-China relations?

Ankara’s angry outburst over the alleged death of a renowned Uighur folk musician while in Chinese detention has exposed the weakness of Turkey’s claims of defending the minority and its dire need to maintain good relations with Beijing.

Turkey’s scorching condemnation of China on Feb. 9 over the treatment of the Turkic Uighur minority in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region caught many, including Uighur activists in Turkey, by surprise. Few expected such an outburst after Ankara's prolonged period of silence despite China’s well-documented and ongoing repressive policies against the Uighurs.

Ankara’s statement pleased many in the expatriate Uighur community, giving them hope that it signals the start of a new and more dynamic policy regarding their cause. Others are not so sure, however, due to past experience, broken promises and Turkey’s openly expressed and actively pursued desire to develop ties with China as a counterbalance to its deteriorating ties with the West.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.