News & Politics

China and Turkey Agree to Deepen 'Counter-Terrorism' Cooperation

China's President Xi Jinping, right, greets Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before a meeting at the West lake State Guest House on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 in Hangzhou, China. (Lintao Zhang/Pool Photo via AP)

It’s official: Turkey has joined the China-Russia-Iran axis.

HANGZHOU, China: Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan agreed Saturday to deepen counter-terror cooperation, as the two set aside previous disagreements over China’s treatment of a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority.

In the past, Turkey regularly criticized China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority, a Turkic race that, like Turkey’s Turks, is Islamic. China accuses the Uyghurs of being Islamist separatists. Last year, despite China’s requests not to do so, President Erdogan said he would continue to welcome Uyghur “refugees” who fled China’s “persecution” of them.

Apparently, that has now changed:

Meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Xi told Erdogan he appreciated Turkey stressing that it would not allow its territory to be used for acts that harmed China’s security.

China “hopes both sides can achieve even more substantive results in counter-terrorism cooperation”, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency cited Xi as saying.

Erdogan, in comments before reporters translated from Turkish into Chinese, said the emphasis should be on strengthening their ties.

“Fighting terrorism is a long-term issue, and is also a long-term topic discussed by the G20,” he said.

Erdogan went on to thank China for its help in protecting Turkey’s security, and added that he hoped for greater cooperation with regards to counter-terrorism operations.

Until this summer, Turkey was always concerned with the fate of Turkic peoples in other part of the world, and especially in China. Clearly, Erdogan is willing to drop those concerns if China helps him stay in power. Machiavellian as always, the Chinese are happy to take that offer: you oppress who you want in your country, we oppress who we want in our country, and we’ll call it even.

This strengthening of ties between Ankara and Beijing should be reason for concern in Washington and Brussels. It’s increasingly obvious that Turkey is joining the China-Russia-Iran axis: the enemies of the West and NATO, of which Turkey is and remains a member.

It’s time for the United States and Europe to throw down the gauntlet. If Turkey wants to become allies with Iran, Russia and China, it can do so, but it means that it can no longer be a NATO member. NATO doesn’t need a fifth column of Turks in its alliance.