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ALM Special

Turkey Elections: China-Erdogan ties strained over Uyghurs despite economic boost

Turkey has toned down its criticism of China over the persecution of Uyghur Muslims, and though trade ties remain relatively strong, Sino-Turkish relations are not especially warm.
BEIJING, CHINA - MAY 13: Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan welcome Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine at the welcoming banquet for the Belt and Road Forum on May 13, 2017 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Jason Lee - Pool/Getty Images)

Sunday's elections in Turkey will have global ramifications. A win by opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could overhaul Turkey’s policies from Syria to the Gulf to China. 

Beijing, with its growing interests in the Middle East, has had its share in the Turkish campaign debate. Late last month, Chinese state media falsely reported that Erdogan had had a heart attack after his health scare. Last week, Kilicdaroglu promised to create a trade corridor to China, but has also criticized the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in the country.

Turkey and China already have significant economic connections, but ties remain somewhat cold, in large part due to Turkey’s position on the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China.

Economic ties

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