Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Tuesday began talks with Turkey's leaders on issues such as the crisis in Syria and trade after a flag-burning protest by activists from China's Uighur minority.
Ahead of Xi's meeting with President Abdullah Gul, around 100 Uighurs demonstrated near the hotel where the Chinese leader was staying in downtown Ankara.
The demonstrators burnt Chinese flags and chanted slogans against Beijing's treatment of the Muslim Turkish-speaking Uighur people in its far-western Xinjiang region as the riot police kept them away from Xi's hotel.
A predominantly Muslim country, Turkey shares linguistic and religious links with the Uighur community, which has several associations here.
Ankara accepts China's sovereignty over Xinjiang, but heavily criticized the 2009 violence in the region, denouncing what it described as "atrocities."
Trade will be one of the major agenda items during the talks between Turkish officials and Xi, who is expected to be the next president of China. Sources in the Turkish presidency said a number of cooperation deals would be signed during the visit.
The crisis in neighboring Syria is also expected to figure high in Xi's talks with Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. China, a permanent member of the Security Council, recently vetoed a U.N. resolution aimed at stopping the months-long bloodshed in Syria.
Xi will fly to Istanbul later in the day to meet Erdogan, who is recovering from a second intestinal operation at his residence there.
Accompanied by a large number of businessmen, Xi will on Wednesday attend a business forum in Istanbul in a bid to give a boost to trade and investments between the two countries.
The trade volume between Turkey and China has soared from one billion dollars 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 dollars by 2015 and to 100 billion by 2020, boldly vowing to trade in their national currencies.
|Copyright © 2012 Naharnet.com. All Rights Reserved.||http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/30775|