Chinese Envoy Zhang Tao: Relations with Turkey multidimensional, important

ALI ÜNAL @ali_unal
Published 23.06.2016 00:00

The charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Ankara, Zhang Tao, said that Turkish-Chinese relations are multidimensional and very important from China's perspective and stressed that downgrading bilateral relations between the two countries only to discussion about Xinjiang would undermine bilateral relations. Speaking to journalists at an iftar (fast-breaking dinner) hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Ankara on Wednesday evening, Zhang said that China conducts a peaceful development and improvement policy, but it does not mean that China will diverge from its national interests. Zhang said the three fundamental policies in China are reform, progress and stability.

Giving detailed information about China's policy on Xinjiang's Uighur population, Zhang claimed that the central government in Beijing is not implementing oppressive policies against Uighurs. "During years of 1982 to 2000, the Uighur population has shown a 40.8 percent increase. While the Uighur population in Xinjiang in 1949 was 3 million, this number increased to 10 million in 2013. … Even during the one-child policy era, Uighurs in Xinjiang were allowed to have more than one child.

"There are four official languages in Xinjiang and one of the them is Uighur. Uighurs also have newspapers, radios and TV channels in their own language," he said, and asserted that Uighurs in Xinjiang have complete cultural and religious freedom.

"During the years of 2011 to 2015 alone, the central government spent nearly TL 700 million ($241.5 million) to protect the cultural property of Xinjiang. There are more than 9,000 historical artifacts belonging to Uighurs in Xinjiang," he said.

Regarding Turkish-Chinese bilateral relations, Zhang said they have taken on a new dimension since 2010 with the adoption of the Joint Declaration on the Establishment and Development of the Strategic Relationship of Cooperation. Expressing China's desire to enhance relations with Turkey, Zhang added that they hope to further enhance friendship with Turkey.

Touching on Turkey's fight against terrorism, Zhang said that they support Turkey's struggle against terrorism and that the Chinese government has never by any means supported the PKK and will maintain this policy.

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