Can Two Ends of Asia Meet? An Overview of Contemporary Turkey-China Relations
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China’s new Silk Road policy, titled “One Belt, One Road,” signals a proactive turn in China’s regional policy towards Central and West Asia. The policy has two dimensions: First, China aims to revitalize the old Silk Road exchange of goods, ideas, and people with trade, energy, and transportation projects. Second, armed with these new connections, China aims to redefine the territories the old Silk Road encompasses as a region in the contemporary international system. Turkey, as one of the countries at the westernmost end of the historic Silk Road, and one of the target countries of China’s new Silk Road diplomacy, welcomes the increasing economic and technological exchange with China. Establishing better contacts with China fits suitably in Turkey’s new foreign policy orientation. While the foreign policies of the two countries seem to be compatible, Turkish domestic political dynamics and public opinion hinder further engagement between the two ends of the Silk Road. The negative public opinion towards China manifests itself in the form of media coverage, protests and lobbying and, at times, it derails bilateral relations. This paper assesses the prospects for bilateral relations in the light of these developments. The paper starts with a historical analysis of Sino-Turkish relations and proceeds with various dimensions of the current relations. Then, it provides an analysis of various public opinion surveys in order to grasp the nature of the Turkish public opinion towards China, and it offers a media framing analysis in order to decipher the specific ways the image of China is constructed in Turkish public opinion. The last part of the paper discusses the domestic political actors that have a role in the perceptions and policies toward China in Turkey.
KeywordsTurkey China Silk Road One belt one road Asianization Public opinion Foreign policy Regionalization
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