Sat, Mar 23, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Turkey treads tricky path with China

MINORITY RIGHTS:Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is faced with balancing the economic interests of his country and responding to the plight of the Uyghurs

AFP, ISTANBUL

Turkey’s reaction last month was triggered by the announcement in some media, denied by Beijing, about the death of a famous Uyghur poet, Abdurehim Heyit.

The Muslim world in particular had been conspicuously quiet over the issue, possibly to avoid Chinese diplomatic or economic retaliation.

Turkish officials said they had learned that Heyit died serving an eight-year prison sentence “over one of his songs.”

China rejected that, calling the Turkish statement “vile.”

Turkey’s government is already aware the price could be high if it goes too far: After that criticism last month, Beijing temporarily closed its consulate in Izmir and called on its citizens to “strengthen their vigilance” in Turkey.

Turkey’s voice is important, Ayup said, because it can influence public opinion in other Muslim countries, which have remained silent on the issue.

“We do not want Turkey to cut relations with China, but that does not mean that it has to turn a blind eye to a humanitarian disaster,” he said.

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