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Turkish vice president urges more investment from China

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Turkey should attract more investment and tourists from China, Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz said on Wednesday, local media reported.

Bilateral trade currently exceeds $50 billion, but Turkish industry needs to increase its exports to China, Yılmaz said at the signing ceremony of an energy storage facility agreement between Turkish and Chinese companies in Ankara on Wednesday.

Turkish company Progresiva and China’s Harbin Electric International (HEI) signed an agreement to build an electricity storage facility with a capacity of 1,000 MWh and a 250 MW wind farm.

The size of the investment will be $600 million, and $300 million in financing from China will be secured through Harbin, Yılmaz said.

“Tourism and direct investment should balance the trade imbalances. … We want more Chinese tourists and more direct investment from China.”

He pointed out that China’s annual outbound investment is around $100 billion but that Turkey’s share is only 0.2 percent. “We need to increase [Chinese investment inflows],” he said.

This comes amid criticism and concerns raised by various international bodies and countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, over China’s alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Parliaments in several countries have passed non-binding motions describing China’s actions as genocide, including Canada, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Lithuania and France.

China’s treatment of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities has drawn international condemnation, with human rights groups estimating that some 1 million Uyghurs have been arbitrarily incarcerated in a network of prison camps in Xinjiang.

Beijing denies all allegations of abuse of Uyghurs and describes the camps as vocational training facilities to combat religious extremism.

Turkey has been a destination for thousands of Uyghurs fleeing China and home to a sizable Uyghur diaspora, numbering some 50,000 and the largest Uyghur diaspora in the world. But a Turkey-China extradition treaty signed in 2017 that is still awaiting ratification by the Turkish parliament has led to fears that it could be used to target Uyghurs in Turkey.

The Uyghurs have sought refuge in Turkey because of their shared cultural ties. Turkey, however, has become less vocal about the plight of the Uyghurs in recent years as it has developed economic ties with China.

Uyghur journalist and activist Selahaddin Kaşgarlı shared the news about Yılmaz’s remarks on X without commenting on them.

The news was criticized by Uyghurs and Turks, who condemned the vice president for prioritizing Chinese investment over the plight of Uyghurs.

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