November 25, 2020 - 3:00 pm


Dr. Altay Atlı
Founding Director of Atlı Global and Lecturer at Boğaziçi University
Ever since the early 1970s, when Turkey and the People’s Republic of China have established diplomatic recognition with each other, relations between these two countries have gone through significant ebbs and flows. Economic initiatives based on mutual benefits were hailed by both sides, only to be eventually derailed due to contentious political issues such as the case of the Uyghurs. The relationship did not follow a pattern of linear progress, but an oscillation; and even its elevation to the status of a strategic cooperation in 2010 failed to bring about greater stability. This, however, appears to be changing, due to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has created new opportunities for cooperation and hence expectations of increasing economic interdependence between the two countries in the near future. For China, Turkey is located at a strategic and indispensable position along the BRI, between Europe and Asia. For Turkey on the other hand, China is an economic power that can help close its infrastructure and technology gaps, a vital requirement for the country’s sustainable economic development. Business volumes and investment projects between Turkey and China are yet to take off, however expectations on both sides are profound. In the meantime, while the Uyghur issue continues to undermine the relationship, within this framework defined by longer term economic returns, it is easier for both sides to contain their political tensions.