Since the rise to power of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s relations with the West have seen a dramatic deterioration. At the same time, the country that is often described as a bridge between Asia and Europe has tilted its affinity steadily toward the East.
That trend is reflected in frequent visits from Chinese officials to Turkey, according to Al-Monitor, including in the area of security. And according to Chinese military official Chen Qingsong, speaking in Ankara recently, that trend will only accelerate after Erdogan’s re-election.
China’s military attaché to Turkey, speaking at the same event commemorating the 91st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, said the two militaries would produce “fruitful results.” The attendance of high-level diplomats, politicians, and Turkish Armed Forces commanders at the ceremony was remarkable, said Al-Monitor.
“Relations of the two countries are developing favorably. Turkey’s central corridor strategy that aims at linking Europe to Central Asia and to Afghanistan, Pakistan and China matches with China’s Belt and Road Initiative,” Chen said.
The comments from a military official reflect the key to the bilateral relationship, the deepening economic ties.
“China is the second-largest economy in the world, which is now projecting its economic power to the rest of the world through the Belt and Road Initiative. At the moment, China is the largest source of Turkey’s trade deficit and current-account deficit,” Altay Atli, a scholar at the Istanbul Policy Center of Sabanci University, told Al-Monitor.
“However, what is important here is expectations for the future. Turkey expects, and rightfully so, to have China as a major source of investment and technology for its own economy. On the other hand, Turkey is important for China, too, because it is located right at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative. So it is a case of mutual benefits, and both sides are eager to develop this further into the future,” he added.
But, down the road, security and military cooperation are going to be increasingly important, Atli says, a development that will further test Ankara’s treaty alliance with the West.