Chinese envoy to Ankara sees improved economic, political ties

ALI ÜNAL @ali_unal
Published 28.08.2016 22:00
Updated 28.08.2016 22:17
Chinese envoy to Ankara sees improved economic, political ties

Chinese envoy Hongyang described Turkey as an 'economic miracle in the Middle East' thanks to the skyrocketing figures in its export volume and stressed the importance of the new Silk Road Project for the future of bilateral relations

Speaking with Daily Sabah on the G20 Summit that will be held in Hangzhou Sept. 4-5, the People's Republic of China's ambassador to Ankara, Yu Hongyang, said that the summit will bring new hope for international economic cooperation and global economic administration. Hongyang indicated that he expects strong messages regarding economic cooperation, expansion and solidarity against global economic crises.

People's Republic of China's ambassador to Ankara, Yu Hongyang (R) and Daily Sabah's Ali Ünal

Providing information on the new Silk Road project of China, the "One Belt, One Road," Hongyang said that Turkey and China were engaged politically for the project and that it is proceeding.

Hongyang previously served as China's Consul General to Istanbul, from 2003-2006, and indicated that Turkey increased its export volume from $47 billion in 2003 to $143.8 billion by the end of 2015, while also increasing tourism revenue from $14 billion in 2003 to $31.5 billion by the end of 2015. In this context, Hongyang said Turkey was an economic miracle in the Middle East.

DS: What are your thoughts on the July 15 coup attempt?

Turkey is a friend of China and a prominent country in the Middle East. Turkey's state security and stability is important to maintaining the stability and development of the region. Chinese Deputy FM Zhang Ming visited Turkey shortly after the coup attempt, and he exchanged views with Turkish officials on the current situation of Turkey and the region along with bilateral relations between China and Turkey. This demonstrates China's emphasis on Turkish relations and friendship towards the Turkish people.

The G20 Summit will be held in China on Sept. 4-5. What is the importance of this summit?

The G20 Hangzhou Summit is the most prominent diplomatic event that China will have hosted in recent years. G20 members, guests and delegates of prominent international organizations are invited to the summit. President Xi Jinping will be heading the summit, while participating in the unofficial meeting of the BRICS.

With the signing of 30 treaties, a historic record is expected at the Hangzhou Summit. The summit is also more representative and inclusive, as it will see a record participation by developing countries. In addition, preparations for the summit are made according to plan. I believe this summit will serve its purpose, while giving new hope to the world.

What are the aims of the Hangzhou Summit?

On various occasions, President Jinping indicated that the summit will be about the "structuring of a creative, lively and coordinated world economy" with subtopics such as "growing in an innovative way," "increased coordination in politics," "trade and investment" and "issues that affect the world economy." Therefore, the summit will focus on global cooperation and the most important aspects and issues of the global economy.

We aim to achieve three goals. First, we want the G20 to be a guide for global economics and improve it with a strategic vision. Second, by improving global international economic cooperation, we want to make a consolidated and coordinated effort against possible global crises. Thus, we want to convey a strong message about inclusiveness and cooperation. Last, we want to form a cooperation platform to transform the G20's struggles against economic crises into long-term management projects.

I believe the Hangzhou Summit will contribute to international economic cooperation and global economic administration.

45 years have passed since China and Turkey established diplomatic relations. What is your opinion on the current state of relations between the two countries?

In recent years, with the effort of both countries, there were stable developments in bilateral relations. Since the two countries formed a strategic partnership in 2010, top-level visits have become frequent, while mutual political trust is continually developing. Presidents Erdoğan and Jinping met two times in 2015, which was a significant development for bilateral relations. This year, China and Turkey will celebrate the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic association. This provides an opportunity for improving bilateral relations and political communications. In June, the Chinese-Turkish Foreign Ministers' Joint Study Group was convened for the fourth time in Beijing. President Erdoğan will attend the Hangzhou Summit in September, and there are various high-level meetings being planned between the two countries.

Bilateral relations between China and Turkey are improving by the day, while the two countries maintain cooperation in regional and international issues. According to Turkish Statistical Institute data, the trade volume between China and Turkey reached $27.3 billion in 2015. China is Turkey's second largest trade partner, after Germany. Even though there was a decrease in tourists visiting Turkey, over 310,000 Chinese tourists visited Turkey in 2015, a 57 percent increase compared to 2014.

In your opinion, what should be done to improve bilateral relations?

China and Turkey have great potential to improve bilateral relations, international cooperation and cultural exchange. These will not only contribute to the development of the two countries, but also to the creation of a just and more rational international political and economic order, along with the stability of the region.

China has been working on the "One Belt, One Road" project. Could you provide some information about this project?

The Chinese nation created the Silk Road spirit by holding friendly relations and cooperation with the countries on the route during a 1,000-year-long period. Tolerance, mutual benefits and mutual experiences are all important parts of this spirit. In 2013, a time marked by complicated shifts in the global economy, President Jinping announced the "One Belt, One Road" project. The project was received well by the countries of the region, as they yearned for inclusive and balanced regional economic cooperation.

"One Belt, One Road" is a systematic project. Conferences, joint construction and sharing are the sought criteria. The project aims to improve cooperation by connecting political, commercial and economic sectors; thereby, connecting the hearts of the people. Until now, more than a hundred countries and international organizations have joined the project. China signed cooperation agreements on the joint construction of the project with more than 30 countries. Regarding the industrial capacity, China is cooperating with more than 20 countries. International organizations, especially the UN, have shown support for the project. Moreover, while the international financial cooperation marked by the Asia Infrastructural Investment Bank and Silk Road Fund is constantly being improved, certain symbolic subprojects were completed. From the project's conception in 2013 to this July, China has invested $51 billion in the countries of the project, which constituted 12 percent of China's direct investment in the same period.

How did this project affect Turkish-Chinese relations?

Turkey and China have a lot in common in spreading Silk Road culture and conveying the spirit of the Silk Road. Turkey responded positively and quickly to the project. Turkey's president announced that the country would actively take part in the construction of the project. On April 10, 2015, Turkey officially became a member of Asia Infrastructural Investment Bank, becoming the 38th founding member. Turkey and China have engaged politically for this project over the past two years. The second part of the high-speed rail between Turkey's capital Ankara and its largest city Istanbul was completed on July 25, 2014, through cooperation between Chinese and Turkish corporations. This is one of the successes of China and Turkey within the framework of the "One Belt, One Road" project.

Leaders of the two countries witnessed the ratification of an agreement on the harmonization of the "One Belt, One Road" project and the "Middle Corridor" initiative at the G20 Antalya Summit. This initiative provides important political support for improving cooperation in various sectors. New stages of the project will see increased and improved bilateral relations and strategic partnership, along with mutual benefits.

To have more sophisticated cooperation, China and Turkey should accomplish the following:

First, the agreed joint construction of the project between China and Turkey must be realized.

Second, the cooperation committee, which will be headed by the deputy prime ministers of the two countries, should be established as soon as possible, to improve and extend cooperation.

Third, the acceleration of cooperation in important projects should be realized. The cooperation of the related departments of the two countries in energy and communications projects is also important.

Fourth, improved financial cooperation must be achieved between the two countries. In this context, the Turkish government will allow the Bank of China's establishment in Turkey to found a Yuan-based calculation center in Turkey. The Chinese government is also calling on Turkish banks to open branches in China and is open to discuss the use of local currencies in trade and investments.

Finally, the cultural interactions between China and Turkey should increase. For the 45th anniversary of Chinese-Turkish diplomatic relations, there are planned cultural events both in Turkey and China. Moreover, cooperation in tourism should also be reinforced to improve friendship among our people.

You were China's Consul General to Istanbul between the years 2003 and 2006. When you compare the current Turkey with the past one, what are the differences?

I believe I am lucky to serve twice in Turkey, and I have utmost respect for the people of this country. Turkish hospitality and the people's never-ending efforts to improve their country are the two characteristics that have impressed me the most. When I became the Consul General to Istanbul, the AK Party was elected for the first time. There have been significant changes in politics, economics and culture in the past 10 years. Now, Turkey is one of the Next Eleven, as one of the fastest developing countries.

The Turkish government has realized effective reforms since 2002. Between 2002 and 2012, seven amendments to the Constitution were passed, all approved by the AK Party. Reforms of common law, administrative institutions and the judiciary are continuing. These reforms paved the way for other reforms in Turkey. Turkey's macro economy was improved with the reforms in economy, trade and finance. Turkey's GDP has increased over 4 percent per annum between the years 2003 and 2015. Turkey also increased its export volume from $47 billion in 2003 to $143.8 billion by the end of 2015, while also increasing its tourism revenue from $14 billion in 2003 to $31.5 billion by the end of 2015. Turkey is an "economic miracle" in the Middle East.

On the other hand, the stable political environment and the swift growth of the economy changed the living conditions of the Turkish people. While Turkey's GDP was $3,500 per capita, it passed the $10,000 mark by 2010. This happened in a period of less than 10 years. Moreover, the construction of the Eurasian Tunnel, the Third Bosporus Bridge, the high-speed rail line between Ankara and Istanbul, the third airport in Istanbul and the Gebze-Orhangazi-İzmir Highway have provided ease to the daily lives of the people.

Meanwhile, the improved relations between Turkey and China along with a better understanding between their peoples have also impressed me. As the two countries formed a strategic partnership, bilateral relations in politics, economy, culture and tourism are also improving. More Turkish citizens want to visit China, study or work there. I believe the future is bright, as both countries, their leaders and people show an effort to improve their relations.

What are the recent developments in China's economy?

China is the second largest economy in the world. While it constituted 15 percent of the world economy, its contribution to the world economy was around 25 percent, making China the largest contributor. In Q2 this year, China has grown 6.7 percent, similar to the Q1. The economy is stable and shows a certain degree of development. The Chinese economy's manufacturing quality is increasing. In the first half of this year, the energy consumption per unit of the GDP decreased 5.2 percent, while the PPI's decrease is becoming less significant. These numbers are improving the market and increasing the profitability of businesses.

This is interesting because we still see crises in the global economy. The recuperation of the global economy is not near the expected levels, and this causes economic uncertainties. The Chinese economy is going through crucial structural reforms and continues to suffer for it. But while suffering from these hardships, the stable growth of the Chinese economy this year could be regarded as a success. China has to reinforce its supply-based reforms, create employment in the public sector, encourage innovation and focus on development to achieve fast growth in the following terms.

China has announced its 13th Five-Year Development Plan this year. Its main focuses are innovation, balancing, greening, opening up and sharing. This development plan, which reflects the Chinese way of development, guarantees reforms, economic stability and long-term development. China is moving towards its aim of creating a prosperous society. In the next five years, annual growth of 6.5 percent is expected. This is not easy, but we believe in ourselves. Moreover, we expect to go over the $10 trillion mark in exports and have foreign investments worth more than $600 billion. Meanwhile, by opening up and sharing, we aim to realize more than 100 grand projects. The renewal and improvement of the Chinese economy also presents an opportunity to the whole world. We expect Turkish entrepreneurs to take this opportunity and work in China.

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