The Current Position:Home>>Recent Stories

Spotlight: China, Turkey working toward modern Silk Road

DATE:2016-11-30       SOURCE:Xinhua


ISTANBUL, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- At the heart of Istanbul lies the Topkapi Palace, a must-see to tourists from around the world for its rich trove of treasures collected during a period of some 400 years as Ottoman Sultans' residence.


Among the antiques are thousands of Chinese porcelain pieces made during China's dynasties of Song (960-1279), Yuan (1206-1368), Ming (1368-1644), and Qing (1644-1911), the largest collection of Chinese ceramics outside of China.


The first recorded use of the Chinese wares in the palace was in 1457 at the circumcision ceremonies for Fatih Sultan Mehmed II's two sons, Bayezid and Mustafa, Turkey's Hurriyet daily reported back in 2013.


All the wares are silent witnesses to China's interactions with Turkey and the region during the ancient Silk Road period.


"We first established our relations with China through the merchants during the ancient Silk Road period which connected the entire world," said Umit Kiler, deputy president of the Independent Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association.


For Irem Calisici, an academician from Dokuz Eylul University based in Izmir, western Turkey, the unique Chinese porcelain collection in Topkapi is the "most striking evidence" of the diplomatic and commercial relations existing between the Ming Dynasty and the Ottoman Empire.


Citing the record, she noted in an article that the two great empires had sent emissaries to visit each other, establishing a cultural recognition on top of diplomatic ties.


During the course of history, however, the bond was broken now and then.


"Today, thanks to the Belt and Road initiative this connection is going to be reestablished," Kiler told Xinhua.


Sitting on both ends of Asia, China and Turkey have voiced their readiness to revive the ancient Silk Road, along which the links are expected to extend from China to Central Asia and the Middle East, and then on to Europe via Turkey.


In China, President Xi Jinping put forth the Belt and Road initiative three years ago, seeking to connect trading partners along the ancient Silk Road through land and sea routes.


Under its Middle Corridor plan, Turkey's project for the modern revival of the ancient Silk Road, a transport network will in the end connect Beijing with London.


"Turkey will again play an important role in connecting London with Beijing through the new highways and railways," said Kiler. "Turkey is ready and very determined again to bridge the two edges of the world."


Both China and Turkey are harboring dreams of growing stronger and more prosperous in the years to come, laying a solid foundation for closer bilateral cooperation.


Beijing and Ankara have signed a memorandum of understanding on harmonizing their Belt and Road and Middle Corridor projects, and both Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Turkey this month for further discussions on their integration.


Turkish leaders, for their part, pledged to advance cooperation on key projects like an already-agreed-upon high-speed rail linking Kars in Turkey's east with the western Turkish city of Edirne, and the construction of a third nuclear power plant in Turkey.


The Middle Corridor plan and the Kars-Edirne rail "will help China to knock the door of Europe, contributing to the revival of modern Silk Road," said Altay Atli, a research associate with the Asian Studies stream of the Istanbul Policy Center at Sabanci University in Istanbul.


Kiler, of the Independent Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association, suggested that Turkey and China could develop "significant partnership" as well in the fields of mining, agriculture and animal husbandry.


He also raised the idea of a joint China-Turkey university in Turkey, for the benefit of peoples to learn each other's language to "interact more."


Kiler referred to Turkey's huge imbalance in trade with China, the biggest problem in bilateral economic ties.


In Atli's opinion, the reality should not be accepted as "something very bad."


"About 40 to 45 percent of Turkish production is still dependent on foreign products," he told Xinhua. "Turkey can still take the advantage of importing products from China."


Atli noted that the gap was shaped in 1990s, when "Made in China" products started to dominate the Turkish market.


He argued that as China has launched the Belt and Road project, Ankara should reposition its trade relations with the country without waiting for it to increase its import from Turkey.


A new action plan for China has been submitted to the Turkish minister of economy and will be announced soon, Atli noted.


"Both Turkey and China need concrete projects rather than talk about the gap between China and Turkey's import rates," he remarked. "Even if China's import would increase 100 percent, Turkey would still sell one and buy five."


He also suggested the introduction of modern Chinese art and literature to the Turkish people, rather than focusing on China's ancient forms of art like calligraphy, kungfu and tea ceremony, to present a better cultural exchange between the two countries.


"Turkish people need to know more about Chinese modern art and the modern lives of Chinese young people, how they live, what they buy or watch, and what they read," Atli said.

Related Accessories: