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Turkiye told Beijing it wants to boost agricultural and food exports to China, Turkish source says

June 5, 2024 at 5:21 pm

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Beijing, China on June 04, 2024 [Murat Gök/Anadolu Agency]

Turkiye’s Foreign Minister told Chinese officials during a visit this week that Ankara wanted to narrow its trade deficit with Beijing partly via more agricultural and food exports, a Turkish diplomatic source said on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, arrived in Beijing on Monday to hold talks with Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, and other officials. He also visited the far western region of Xinjiang, host to millions of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

China is Turkiye’s largest trade partner in Asia and its fifth largest globally.

Fidan said Ankara expected China to import more agriculture and food products from Turkiye, and conveyed Ankara’s wish for China to encourage more companies to invest in Turkiye and more Chinese tourists to visit, the source added.

Turkiye’s imports from China stood at $44.9 billion in 2023, while exports totalled $3.3 billion, according to official data.

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Last month, Turkiye’s Energy Minister held talks with Chinese authorities and firms on mining projects, nuclear and renewable energy, while signing a pact on energy conversion. Ankara is in talks with China on a third nuclear power plant it aims to build in the Thrace region.

While pushing increased economic ties with China, Fidan also reiterated Ankara’s concerns around the issue of the Uyghurs, the source said, a position it has shared with China previously.

Some 50,000 Uyghurs are estimated to live in Turkiye, the largest Uyghur Diaspora outside Central Asia. Turks have close ethnic, religious and linguistic ties to the Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language.

Beijing has come under scrutiny – including from Ankara – over its treatment of its Uyghur minority but denies mistreating them. Turkiye’s government has also been criticised domestically for what critics say are insufficient efforts to protect Uyghurs and their rights.

Fidan told Chinese officials that Uyghur Turks were “very important for us” and reminded Beijing of the Turkic and Muslim worlds’ sensitivities regarding the “protection of the cultural rights and preservation of the values” of Uyghurs, the source said.

He said that only steps by Beijing could “completely remove” these concerns, the source added.

Fidan also reiterated Turkiye’s “One China” policy regarding Taiwan, the source said.

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