By Panayiotis Alimisis*
Turkish – Chinese relations have gone fast under way, with the two countries looking ready to move to a closer and more significant cooperation. Generally both nations have been on an upward trajectory in the last decade and it seems that Erdogan and Xi Ziping are willing to bring the ties to another level. Its also true that the bilateral ties of Ankara and Beijing, were elevated to the level of strategic cooperation back in 2010. However, despite the optimism many ask the question whether Turkey is ready to shift entirely its strategic orientation from the West towards the East. Is Erdogan ready to go against the backdrop of an all-time low relationship with its Western partners, mainly the US?
Many argue that Chinese geopolitical interest doesn’t conflicting with that of Turkey, therefore is easy for the Turkish strategists to make a plan which doesn’t come against the western interest in the Middle East. Erdogan’s government wants to ‘play’ in every front. Ankara wants to keep alive its goal of joining the EU and in addition to warm the ties with the US. Nevertheless, a turko-chinese strategic alliance doesn’t contradict western interest in the Mediterranean, or at least, its not going to cause great economic damage to the West…
Numbers and statistics can give often the wider picture. The Turkish Statistical Institute gave recently some figures which show clearly the economic reality between the two nations, especially the last two years. More specifically, bilateral trade rose to 27.8 billion US dollars in 2016, reaching 21.66 billion in the first 8 months of 2017.
At this point is necessary to mention the investment plans of the Chinese Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Belt and Road Initiative. Analysts believe that these two projects will offer unprecedented opportunities for the shuttered Turkish economy, but only if Ankara maintains an active participation, at any level…And it’s more likely to do so because it will open the door for turko-Chinese investments in the Middle East, which might open the path for a military cooperation.
*Panayiotis Alimisis is a Journalist and Analyst of geopolitical matters. He studied Modern History and International Relations at London Metropolitan University