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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan left for China on Saturday, the first visit by a Turkish premier to the country in 27 years, to forge closer business and political ties with Beijing.
He was to lead a delegation of 300 businessmen as he seeks to boost Chinese public and private sector investments in Turkey and increase exports to the country fourfold to $10 billion by 2015, according to Istanbul-based Dunya newspaper.
Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey has important cooperation potential with China, particularly in the fields of energy, construction, automotive, banking, information and telecommunications. "We are waiting for the Chinese investments in Turkey, especially in these sectors," he said.
Turkey is also ready to realize joint projects with Chinese companies in third-world countries in Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans, he said.
Erdogan's four-day trip follows Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping's visit to Ankara and Istanbul in February, which saw the signing of several cooperation deals in agriculture, finance and banking.
The two sides are expected to sign a deal on cooperation in the nuclear energy sector, and a joint credit fund for possible energy projects is also likely to be discussed, AFP reported.
Trade between Turkey and China soared from $1 billion in 2000 to $19.5 billion in 2010, according to official figures. But the balance of trade is heavily in China's favor.
The two countries have set a timetable to increase their trade volume to $50 billion by 2015 and $100 billion by 2020.
Yunus Ilkay, the secretary-general of the Turkish-Chinese Industrialists Association, told the Hurriyet Daily News that accords on trade, visa-free travel for employees of large businesses and the export of Turkish foods to China could be signed, depending on the outcome of the talks.
Turkey planned to set up an industrial zone in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the first stop of Erdogan's trip, followed by Beijing and Shanghai, the daily said.
The local government has even allocated land for a Turkish industrial zone, where some Turkish companies operate, and China Southern Airlines started direct flights between Urumqi and Istanbul earlier this year, according to Turkish English newspaper Sunday's Zaman.
Regarding to political ties, Erdogan said that bilateral relations are at a good level. "We are continuing with our efforts in order to ensure the positive reflection of this."
Lu Jian, a counselor in the West Asian and North African Affairs Department of China's Foreign Ministry, told reporters on Friday that China would like to cooperate with Turkey on regional issues, where Turkey's influence has increased.
With their booming economies, China and Turkey, both G20 members, should have more say in the affairs of the IMF and World Bank, the Turkish newspaper Zaman quoted Lu as saying.
China values the bigger role that Turkey is playing in regional affairs and will maintain communications with the country based on mutual respect, said Ruan Zongze, deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies.
"There's no major differences between Beijing's and Istanbul's political stances, while both sides would like to strengthen mutually beneficial business relations in the future," he said.
Xinhua and AFP
contributed to this story.