China 'threatens' Turkey, shuts down consulate, over Uighur criticism

China 'threatens' Turkey, shuts down consulate, over Uighur criticism
2 min read
02 March, 2019
China has threatened Turkey with 'economic' consequences if it keeps criticising Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims in its far western Xinjiang region
The plight of China's Muslim Uighur minority is gaining global attention [Getty]
China has threatened Turkey with 'economic' consequences if it keeps criticising Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims in its far western Xinjiang region, days after the Chinese government shut down its general consulate in Turkey’s third biggest city in an apparent punitive move.

The threats were made by China’s envoy to Ankara on Friday, saying Turkey risks jeopardising economic ties with his government if it persists in its criticism of its internal policies.

“There may be disagreements or misunderstandings between friends but we should solve them through dialogue. Criticising your friend publicly everywhere is not a constructive approach,” said Deng Li, Beijing’s top diplomat to Ankara.

“If you choose a non-constructive path, it will negatively affect mutual trust and understanding and will be reflected in commercial and economic relations,” Deng, speaking through a translator, told Reuters in interview.

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This comes as China is seeking to expand investments in Turkey, including in mega infrastructure projects, although the row over Xinjiang could now affect these efforts.

"The most important issue between countries are mutual respect,” he said. “Would you stay friends if your friend criticised you publicly every day?"

In February, Turkey broke its silence over the treatment of China’s Muslim Uighurs, who share cultural ties with Turkey, saying more than one million people faced arbitrary arrest, torture and political brainwashing in Chinese internment camps in Xinjiang.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated Ankara’s concern at a United Nations meeting this week, calling on China to respect human rights and freedom of religion.

China has denied accusations of mistreatment and deems criticism at the United Nations to be interference in its sovereignty. Beijing claims the camps are re-education and training facilities that have stopped attacks previously blamed on Islamist militants and separatists.

On Tuesday, in an apparent punitive move against Turkey, the Chinese government shut down its general consulate in Izmir, Turkey’s third biggest city.

"The Chinese side has decided to temporarily shut down its Izmir General-Consulate as of Feb. 28, 2019, as part of general arrangements with regard to its embassies and consulates abroad,” a government statement said.

China also issued a travel advisory advising its citizens against travelling to Turkey.