|Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan|
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to arrive in Beijing on Monday on an official visit to boost business and political ties between the rising powers with booming economies, despite differences over Syria and China’s ethnic Uighur region.
The visit is the first to China in 27 years by a Turkish premier and follows a February trip by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to Ankara and Istanbul, where the countries signed deals worth billions of dollars.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Erdogan brought a delegation of 300 businessmen, seeking more Chinese investment in Turkey and increase in Turkish exports.
Erdogan said before he left for China that the countries can cooperate in energy, construction, automotive, banking, information and telecommunications, according to Xinhua.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Erdogan first stopped in Urumqi, capital of the far west Xinjiang region, on Sunday. Xinjiang is home to China’s Uighurs, who are ethnically related to Turks.
Ethnic tensions have led to violence in the region in recent years, and relations between the countries dipped in 2009 when renewed violence broke out in Xinjiang and Erdogan described China’s use of overwhelming force against anti-government protesters as a type of genocide.
But when Xi was in Turkey the two sides sought to downplay any contentious issues.
Xinhua reported that Turkey plans to set up an industrial zone in Xinjiang.
Erdogan was to meet Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday, and President Hu Jintao on Tuesday. He is also scheduled to travel to Shanghai, China’s financial centre.