Turkey, China create win-win partnership within BRI framework, experts say
18 Sep 2021


China and Turkey have been creating win-win cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), experts said recently.


The two nations have seen their cooperation flourishing since 2013, when China first proposed the BRI, aiming to mobilize more resources, strengthen connectivity between countries, regions and markets, as well as leverage potential growth drivers.


As a strong supporter of the BRI, Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding with China in 2015 to align its Middle Corridor (MC) plan linking Turkey and Europe with China via a Trans-Caspian transport route.


"Since this agreement, we have seen important infrastructure investment from China in Turkey, which has led to better understanding between the two states," Selcuk Colakoglu, a Turkish academic and expert on China, told Xinhua.


Colakoglu said Ankara would benefit from increasing national infrastructure investment within the BRI.


"In this initiative, China and Turkey are good partners who are working hand in hand for a common target, which is to boost trade and economic relations between partner nations," said Colakoglu, head of the Asia-Pacific Studies.


Beijing has invested in some of the MC's key projects to boost the transportation between China and European countries through this route, the expert said.


The most notable was the 840-km-long Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad (BTK) linking Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, completed in 2017. The BTK shortened the Asia-Europe transportation route between Beijing and London by some 7,000 km.


"The number of journeys between Europe and China shows the huge potential between Turkey and China in the BRI and the Middle Corridor," a Turkish government source told Xinhua.


"In the following years, we may be able to see more dynamic railway-based exports and imports between Asia and Europe," the source said.


Several other infrastructure projects financed by Ankara within the MC, such as the Canakkale Strait Bridge and the Edirne-Kars high-speed rail, are underway.


Ankara is seeking more Chinese investments in Turkish transportation, energy and mining infrastructure, said Colakoglu.


"The BRI will become a game-changer for the future in terms of the large picture of the economy," Colakoglu said.


"China is bringing investments, while Turkey is set to gain from it because of its geographical position," he added.


While the BRI has created an "important momentum" in China-Turkish ties, Ankara's financial woes since a currency meltdown in 2018 pose a challenge to the Turkish portion of the enormous initiative, scholars noted.


"Ankara's financial resources are limited ... and it would be advantageous for Turkey if it calibrates its visions on the BRI with those of China's," Emre Demir, a scholar of international relations at TED University in Ankara, told Xinhua, calling on Turkey to make long-term commitments.


Demir stressed that the BRI is "without doubt an endeavor" to forge closer relations between China and Turkey.


Source: Xinhua