Xi forges stronger relationship

Updated: 2012-02-22 09:38

By Hu Yinan and Cheng Guangjin (China Daily)

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Xi forges stronger relationship

Vice-President Xi Jinping is greeted by Abdullah Gul, the president of Turkey, in Ankara on Tuesday, prior to their meeting. [Photo/Xinhua] 

Vice-president pledges greater cooperation in landmark visit to Turkey

BEIJING - China and Turkey, two of the world's fastest growing major economies, will increase trade and cooperation, Vice-President Xi Jinping said as he began an official trip to Ankara.

"In today's complex and changing international situation, the enrichment of strategic cooperation between China and Turkey is to the benefit of both countries, now and in the long term," Xi told Turkey's Sabah newspaper in an interview on Monday.

Turkey "has, for a long time, tried to bring stability and development to the region and played an active role in trying to solve 'hot' global and regional issues".

Ankara's "proactive and flexible" foreign policy is allowing it to play an increasingly vital role in global and regional affairs, Xi said.

Turkey, a key NATO member and an active mediator in the Middle East, is the Chinese leader's third and final stop on a trip that also took him to the United States and Ireland.

The two countries will broaden cooperation in combating terrorism, a sphere where Beijing and Ankara's "commonalties overwhelm dissimilarities", said Dong Manyuan, an expert at the China Institute of International Studies.

China and Turkey "share extensive common interests in safeguarding world peace, promoting common development and meeting global challenges," Xi said upon his arrival in Ankara on Monday.

Beijing will "continue to give incentives" for its companies to invest in Turkey, he said in the interview, adding that China hopes that Chinese companies will have a good investment environment and working conditions in the country.

In an indication of their growing relationship, both countries signed a three-year currency swap deal on Tuesday worth $1.6 billion to enable bilateral trade in local currencies.

Xi and Turkish President Abdullah Gul oversaw the signing of the agreement, which can be extended, between the People's Bank of China and Turkey's Central Bank.

Yao Kuangyi, China's former ambassador to Turkey, said Xi's visit will "break new ground" for Sino-Turkey relations and promote their strategic partnership in the economic, security and cultural sectors.

"This visit will bring developments in areas of transportation, infrastructure, communication and tourism, where there is great potential for the two countries to cooperate," he said.

Xi's trip showcases China's readiness to advance cooperation with other developing countries, at a time the world economy is still struggling to recover from the financial crisis and instability grips parts of the Middle East.

Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News earlier quoted an Ankara official as saying that China had expressed interest in Turkey's nuclear energy.

Turkey plans to build four nuclear reactors in Sinop, on the Black Sea coast. It is in talks with the Republic of Korea concerning the construction of two of the reactors.

Following separate meetings with Gul and Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek in Ankara, Xi arrived in Istanbul on Tuesday afternoon. He is expected to address a Turkish-Chinese business forum on Wednesday.

In the interview on Monday, Xi also stressed the strategic role of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in further opening up the country.

The government has always been dedicated to developing Xinjiang, to boost the living standards of all ethnic groups in the region, including the Uygur, Xi said.

Xinjiang, China's largest autonomous region, is home to 47 ethnic groups. Authorities have vowed to build it into an economic hub.

Beijing "sincerely welcomes" Turkish entrepreneurs to attend the second China-Eurasia Expo in Xinjiang's capital city Urumqi in September, as well as invest in the autonomous region, he said.

Trade between China and Turkey reached $18.7 billion in 2011. It is expected to hit $100 billion by 2020.

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