China’s envoy threatens Turkey over Uighur complaints

Turkey risks jeopardizing economic ties with China if it continues to criticize Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims, China’s envoy to Ankara warned, just as Chinese firms are looking to invest in Turkish energy and infrastructure mega-projects, Reuters reported on Friday.

Last month Turkey spoke after quite some time the fate of China’s Uighurs, saying more than 1 million people faced arbitrary arrest, torture and political brainwashing in Chinese internment camps in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu repeated Ankara’s concern at a United Nations meeting last week, calling on China to respect human rights and freedom of religion.

China has denied accusations of mistreatment and deems criticism at the United Nations to be interference in its sovereignty. Beijing says the camps are re-education and training facilities that have stopped attacks previously blamed on Islamist militants and separatists.

“There may be disagreements or misunderstandings between friends, but we should solve them through dialogue. Criticizing your friend publicly everywhere is not a constructive approach,” said Deng Li, Beijing’s top diplomat to Ankara.

If you choose a non-constructive path, it will negatively affect mutual trust and understanding and will be reflected in commercial and economic relations,” Deng, speaking through a translator, told Reuters in interview.

For now, Deng said that many Chinese companies were looking for investment opportunities in Turkey including the third nuclear power plant Ankara wants to build.

Several Chinese firms including tech giant Alibaba are actively looking at opportunities in Turkey after the lira’s selloff has made local assets cheaper.