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Turkish ambassador: BRI promotes China-Turkey cooperation

By Gao Meng | | Updated: 2019-01-23 15:24
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Ankara-Istanbul high-speed rail line was China's first high-speed railway project in Europe. [Photo/ CRCC]

Bilateral cooperation between the two countries has also spurred Turkey's employment and talent training, as many locals were involved in the construction of the railway. Yuan Li, president of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, a state-owned enterprise (SOE) affiliated to CRCC, said that the locals' involvement helped facilitate technology transfer in the project.

As China's BRI enters its fifth year and keeps gaining momentum, more Chinese SOEs are venturing oversea, and investments in Turkey have expanded to various fields such as energy and tourism.

In October 2018, CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co Ltd also signed a $500 million contract on articulated light rail vehicles with the government of Istanbul. And in February 2017, Turkey's Tuz Lake gas storage facility, built by China's Tianchen Corporation, was launched with an official gas injection ceremony participated in by President Erdogan. The facility, which is expected to store as much as 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually, is said to be the world's largest single cavity underground gas storage.

These are just glimpses, in Turkey alone, of the global ambition of China's ever powerful SOEs. According to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the combined profits of China's central SOEs shot up 23 percent to 888 billion yuan ($133 billion) in the first half of this year, while their revenues jumped 10.1 percent to 13.7 trillion yuan ($1.97 trillion).

International projects such as the railways and the gas storage facilities in Turkey provide an important platform for Chinese SOEs to expand into the global markets. And on this point, Turkey's pivotal location connecting Asia and Europe proves to be an unrivaled advantage.

"Turkey's strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa makes it a critical part of the Silk Road," said ambassador Önen. "Being a country on the western end of the Ancient Silk Road, Turkey has in fact long been working on projects to revive this historical route."

The ancient route's revival, an agenda that China and Turkey readily agree on, is actually an important component of China's BRI, for which the ambassador's enthusiasm was apparent.

"From the very beginning, we have supported the Belt and Road Initiative," he said. "We certainly believe that this initiative will open new windows of cooperation for all the countries in the region and beyond."

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