In recent weeks, China's ruling Communist Party (CPC) held its 19th National Congress to determine the leader cadres in the country. More importantly, Chinese President Xi Jinping heralded a "new era" of Chinese power numerous times during the national congress. Responding to Daily Sabah's questions regarding what this "new era" means for Chinese foreign policy during an exclusive interview with Chinese Ambassador to Ankara Yu Hongyang, the envoy to Ankara said that during the CPC congress, Chinese President Xi Jinping had asserted that this new era, which is bringing China closer to the core of the international platform, will prove immensely beneficial for humankind.
Daily Sabah's Ali Ünal (L) and Chinese envoy Yu Hongyang
Ambassador Yu Hongyang also expressed that in this new era, China will become the admiral ship of diplomacy and the country will provide the international community with a plan that will resolve issues that ail societies around the world.
Regarding Turkish-Chinese relations, Ambassador Hongyang said the bilateral relationship between the two countries is improving nicely, underlining that the level of political trust is increasing daily on both sides, adding that economic and trade relations are gaining depth over time, as well. Stressing that China and Turkey are in close contact and continue to be engaged in close coordination regarding regional matters, Ambassador Hongyang added that China is ready to establish mutually respectful, fair, cooperative relations with Turkey that are based on a win-win principle and hopes to make the world a secure, clean and inclusive place through these efforts.
Commenting on the Middle Corridor project which is a vital part of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, Ambassador Hongyang said these projects will bring Turkey and China together and serve the development strategies of both sides, asserting that the year 2018 will be celebrated as "Turkey Tourism Year" in China. Regarding this issue, the ambassador said "Turkey Tourism Year" will provide an unprecedented opportunity to increase social and cultural interactions between the two countries, as well as promote Turkey's touristic hotspots in China.
DAILY SABAH: The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was held recently. In your opinion, how is this congress significant?
Yu Hongyang: The 19th National Congress of the CPC is a crucial step in completing the establishment of a middle-income welfare society. It is a vital congress that marks a new era in Chinese socialism. With the Central Committee of the CPC led by Xi Jinping at its core, China is entering a new age in which it is closing the gap of the international platform unprecedentedly. On the verge of realizing the redevelopment dreams of the Chinese people, Beijing is becoming a wealthy, powerful, democratic, reconciliatory and beautiful socialist country, step by step.
In a report he announced at the congress, CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping expressed that a strain of socialism particular to China, along with a rational-scientific ideology system, will be created through the guiding ideology of the CPC. Moreover, it was stated that Marxism has made great strides in China at a level which is one for the books, adding that the congress was the turning of a new page for Chinese socialism. Providing guidance in terms of actions, the report includes five-year systematic plans, strategic and practical initiatives to realize redevelopment, and it will lead the diverse population of China to build a modern and powerful socialist country.
DS: At the CPC congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping heralded a 'new era' of Chinese power. What does this 'new era' mean, in terms of Chinese foreign policy?
Y.H.: CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping asserted that this "new era" in which China is getting closer to the core of the international platform will benefit humankind immensely. Chinese diplomacy will operate from a wider world view, an increased sense of international responsibility and increased diplomatic initiatives under the guidance of "Thoughts on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era," announced by General Secretary Xi Jinping. In accordance with this, China will continue to contribute to humankind in the "new era," while achieving new successes.
China also aims to constantly develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, provide new methods for the modernization of developing countries, offer the Chinese Plan to resolve issues that plague humankind, and seek areas of improvement in the regime. Secondly, Chinese political development will be accelerated through the reform of socialist democratic politics, while contributing to the universal political establishment with an Eastern perspective. Thirdly, China will realize a joint development with various countries by accelerating the "One Belt One Road" (OBOR) initiative, creating a new platform for international cooperation. Fourthly, China will continue to open to the world, allowing the international community to deepen relations that are mutually beneficial for both sides. Fifth of all, the implementation of a green, low-carbon emission ecological system will bring humankind and nature together in a harmonious way and will be a deciding factor in the creation of a global ecological civilization.
With new successes, it is aimed to speed up efforts toward a new mode of international relations and the establishment of a community with common goals. General Secretary Xi Jinping has defined this new type of international relations as "mutual respect, fair, just, cooperative and based on the win-win principle." This new understanding is compatible with China's diplomatic tradition, the demands of other countries and the development trends of our age. There are many ways to realize this new mode of international relations. For instance, dialogue rather than antagonism, cooperation instead of alliances, the establishment of stable and balanced relations with more powerful countries, sincerity, mutual benefits and inclusivity are some of them. Improving relations with neighboring countries and maintaining solidarity with developing countries, as well as cooperation, could also be counted among these. The creation of a new mode of international relations will be required for the formation of a community gathered around a common goal. China will become the admiral ship of diplomacy in this "new era" and will provide the international community with a plan that will resolve the issues that plague humankind. Permanent peace, common wealth and the realization of an inclusive, clean and beautiful world is the treasure of humankind.
DS: How would you describe the current level of Turkish-Chinese relations? What impact would the decisions taken at the CPC congress have on bilateral relations?
Y.H.: Relation between the two countries are improving nicely. Political trust between the two parties is increasing by the day, economic and trade relations are deepening over time, cultural exchanges are being made, and there are changes and cooperation in almost every field. China and Turkey are in close contact and coordination regarding regional matters.
According to the report that was announced at the CPC's 19th National Congress, it is expressed that China wants to cooperate with all countries, including Turkey, to accelerate the formation of the said new method of international relations and the global community based on common goals. China is ready to establish mutually respectful, just, cooperative relations that are based on the win-win principle with Turkey and to make the world a secure, clean and inclusive place together. According to the five articles of the new foreign policy, which is about peace and cohabitation, determined at the 19th National Congress, cooperation in "Belt and Road" initiative along with the "Middle Corridor" project between China and Turkey will actively bring these two countries together and serve their development strategies. Meanwhile, China is ready to increase the level of political trust between the two countries by maintaining high-level interactions, bolstering finite cooperation in the economy and trade sector, concentrating on cultural exchanges to consolidate the existing friendship and to carry the strategic cooperation to a new level.
DS: China's OBOR project was included in the CPC's program at the congress. What impact will this development have on the OBOR initiative and Turkish-Chinese bilateral relations?
The international initiative of the OBOR project was underscored at the CPC's 19th National Congress and was included in the CPC's program with the article titled, "The Acceleration of OBOR According to Joint Counsel, Joint Construction and Joint Share Principles." This endeavor indicates that China is willing to keep its promise in achieving joint development by speeding up international cooperation.
President Xi Jinping first announced the OBOR initiative during his visits to the Middle East and Southeast Asia in 2013. During those four years, this initiative went through various phases as a result of the aforementioned principles: ideological design, implementation of pilot innovation and extensive application. In May, China successfully hosted the OBOR International Forum which was attended by the presidents and prime ministers of 29 countries, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, along with representatives of more than 140 countries and 80 international organizations. President Xi Jinping called on countries to make the OBOR initiative a road toward peace, wealth, transparency, innovation and civilization, and this was received positively by all participants.
In addition to launching a new phase in the construction of the OBOR initiative, this forum also allowed China and Turkey to combine their powers for the Middle Corridor project. China expects to improve political communication, logistic connections, trade, currency exchange and cultural relations by deepening cooperation in the field of infrastructure, finance and energy.
DS: 2018 will be celebrated as the 'Turkey Tourism Year' in China. In this regard, do you believe that Turkey's goal to attract 1 million Chinese tourists is realistic?
Turkey has rich and unparalleled resources in the tourism sector. The Turkish people are always hospitable. Meanwhile, Turkish tourism facilities' infrastructure is in good condition. Therefore, Turkey is an attractive tourism spot for all, including the Chinese. With the immense growth of China's economy, our citizens have the increasing urge to travel abroad. A total of 122 million Chinese citizens traveled abroad during 2016, showing a 150-percent increase compared to 2012 data. While China became the country with the most citizens travelling abroad, Chinese tourists rank first in terms of purchasing power. The total expenditure of Chinese tourists reached 109.8 billion in 2016. In this respect, expenditures per Chinese tourist stands at around $900. China, for the fourth year in a row, is the number-one country in terms of foreign expenditures. The "Turkey Tourism Year" that is to envisioned in China's plan for next year provides an unprecedented opportunity for increasing the level of social and cultural interactions between the two countries, as well as promoting Turkey's touristic hotspots in China. This is important as it will attract more Chinese tourists to Turkey.
Via the Turkish media, I have learned that there are tremendous preparations being made at touristic hotspots for our people, in places like Cappadocia and Pamukkale. I want to thank officials in the Turkish tourism sector for their tremendous efforts and intense preparations. Meanwhile, we expect Turkey to increase the amount of software and hardware that is suitable for Chinese tourists, improve accommodations, security and emergency mechanisms. A total of 160,000 Chinese tourists visited Turkey last year; whereas this year, that number is increasing month by month. Currently, those numbers have surpassed 165,000. I believe that more Chinese tourists will be able to enjoy the beautiful country of Turkey with the joint efforts of both China and Turkey.
DS: Apart from being the growth engine of the global economy, in recent years, China has also become the world's second-largest source of outward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with around $200 billion per year. How can Turkey attract more FDI from China?
Y.H.: From 2013 to 2016, China's extra-financial investments in Turkey have surpassed $4 billion and new projects signed with Turkey have stood at around $6.5 billion. This number has reached a total of $18 billion. Trade volume between these two countries has surpassed $86 billion. On the other hand, Turkey's trade deficit with China is decreasing by the year. While China's extra-financial investments to Turkey between January and August 2017 reached 36.69 million showing a 196.4 percent increase, the total amount of agreements has reached $580 million, showing a 24.8-percent increase in comparison to 2016. Many fields, such as investment cooperation, infrastructure facilities, energy resources, logistics, transportation, manufacturing and production were incorporated. The mode of cooperation has shifted from the exporting of goods and service to the exporting of service and capital.
The economy is at the core of the service sector, and China has realized prominent investments in Turkey by investing in the high-level service sector in the last five years. The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) bought Turkey's Tekstil Bank with a $316-million investment. China's investment in Turkey's financial sector is its largest investment. The Bank of China (BOC) founded Bank of China Turkey in January 2017 with a $300-million investment. Now, Bank of China Turkey is currently waiting to secure its license. COSCO SHIPPING, CMG and CIC, a Chinese trio, bought Turkey's third largest container port Kumpir in 2015 with a $965-million investment. This is the largest investment in Turkey from the Chinese transportation sector. Moreover, ZTE has bought a 48.04 percent share of Turkey's NETAS for 103.3 million, which renders the exchange the largest Chinese telecommunication sector investment in Turkey.
I believe that cooperation in trade between China and Turkey will increase with the OBOR initiative and the Middle Corridor project, resulting in more Chinese companies investing in Turkey. We also expect Turkish businesspeople to invest in Chinese markets.
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