Will China intervene in the Greek-Turkish crisis?


Sputnik Hellas examined the potentiality of China's involvement in the Greek-Turkish crisis. Who wants such a thing and what is the role of the Uighurs?

In the midst of a diplomatic "fever" to resolve the Greek-Turkish crisis in the Aegean as the Turkish Oruç Reis research ship remains off the Greek mainland, the scenario of Chinese aid to the UN is put on the table.

The fact that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced before Yang Jiehi, a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China, that "the challenges stop, the talks begin," regarding the Turkish moves in the Aegean so they cannot be mistaken as accidental.

"Your presence in Greece at this juncture is becoming increasingly important, because China, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, represents the positions of international law," Mitsotakis told the Chinese official.

Diplomatic sources told Sputnik that those in the Greek-Chinese cooperation suggested to representatives of the Chinese Foreign Ministry their immediate intervention with a statement regarding the de-escalation of tensions in the Aegean.

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These are business and economic circles that see that while the new "Silk Road" has been "frozen" due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they do not want to waste extra time due to additional instability in the region that could escalation the Greek-Turkish crisis.

Fotis Provatas, president of the Hellenic-Chinese Chamber of Economic Cooperation, is asking for Chinese help, saying that "China must now play its role for peace and prosperity in our region."

Few people know that Chinese-Turkish relations is delicately balancing. The point of friction is with the Uighur community of Xinjiang in Western China.

The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, located on China's border with Russia and seven other countries, is causing a "headache" in Beijing, which for two decades has seen terrorists and Islamist extremists among the region's residents, according to the report.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry say that since 2014, a total of 12,995 violent terrorists have been arrested.

Some of the Uighur separatist groups, according to RT, fighting for an independent East Turkestan in northwest China are not considered terrorists by only Beijing.

The so-called Islamic Movement of East Turkestan, now known as the Islamic Party of Turkestan, is recognized as a terrorist group by the UN.

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The Turks seem to be an unexpected ally of the Uighurs.

This is because Turkey, which has not only religious but also linguistic and ethnic ties to China's more than 12 million Uighurs , hosts at least 50,000 of them in Istanbul neighborhoods.

According to Western views, Beijing is attempting to "ethnicize" the region's Muslims.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who until the beginning of 2019 characterized Beijing's treatment of Uighurs as genocide, tries to reduce his country's dependence on the West by turning to countries like China.

"Turkey seems to be turning a blind eye at the moment as Erdoğan awaits Chinese investment. But he can use the Uighurs to try to push China in different directions, as he has done in the past," a diplomatic source told Sputnik.

As China raises its investment by 65% ​​in Turkey's third largest container port - Kumport, on the European side of Istanbul - it has repeatedly sent clear messages to Turkey to stop interfering in the Uighur issue.

"Turkey will jeopardize its economic ties with China if it continues to criticize Beijing's treatment of Muslim Uighurs," the Chinese ambassador to Ankara said in 2019 .

The strategic analyst Thanasis Drougos sees a Turkey-China conflict during the current period regarding the Uighurs as difficult, but also as difficult for the Chinese to intervene in the Aegean.

"The Chinese are paying close attention to their steps. They would not want to oppose Turkey in the current situation, as the Turks are turning east seeking new alliances ," the analyst said.

"This does not mean that such a thing is impossible in the future. East Turkestan is a case that has not been closed yet," Drougos added.

However, diplomatic sources see China as having a historic opportunity to impose itself on the Turks to achieve three things:

  • Penetration into the Turkish economy now that Turkey has weakened economically.
  • The decline of any Uighur resistance.
  • Force Turkey to drop its aggression against Greece for the smooth passage of the Belt and Road Initiative through Greece and Turkey.