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Chinese vice president meets with Turkey’s FM

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Foreign Minister Fidan met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The two foreign ministers held a joint press conference after the meeting. The good relations between Turkey and China will contribute to regional and global peace, prosperity and stability,” Fidan said.

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan held a delegation meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing as part of his visit to China. Speaking at the joint press conference held after the meeting, Fidan said Turkey and China have overlapping views in many areas of international relations and both countries are committed to a fairer understanding in the international system, adding that good relations between Turkey and China will contribute to regional and global peace, prosperity and stability. Turkey and China share a common understanding on Ukraine,” Fidan added.

Turkey fully supports China’s territorial integrity,” Fidan said, adding, “We are closely following the developments in the Asia-Pacific region and their geopolitical implications. We believe that the challenges in the Asia-Pacific region require effective multilateralism, efforts for constructive dialogue and cooperation based on common priorities.

Fidan stressed that China’s sensitivity on the Palestinian issue is very welcome, saying that they appreciate China’s solidarity with the Palestinians and its strong support for the two-state solution.

Noting the importance of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for a comprehensive, competent and effective international peace conference for a solution in Palestine, Fidan said, ‘We will continue to work with China for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Visit to Uighur region

Fidan, who will also visit the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Wednesday as part of his visit to China, referred to the cities of Kashgar and Urumqi and said: “These cities also play the role of a bridge between China and the Turkic world and between China and the Islamic world. They are the symbols of our historical friendship and neighbourhood. The unity of societies and peoples is the greatest wealth of strong states. I would like to express that I will be very happy to witness the historical and cultural richness of these regions.

The last high-level visit from Turkey to the region was by President Tayyip Erdoğan, then Prime Minister, in 2012.

Cooperation against Western hegemony

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that ‘China and Turkey should strengthen cooperation and oppose all forms of hegemony and power politics’.

China and Turkey should strengthen cooperation and intensify efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian issue,” Wang Yi added.

Emphasis on upholding the one-China principle and enhancing security cooperation

According to a Chinese statement, Fidan also met with Chinese Vice President Han Zheng on Tuesday. Fidan told Han that Turkey is committed to the one-China principle and ‘will not allow activities in Turkey that harm China’s territorial integrity’, the statement said. Fidan added that Ankara was ready for close high-level exchanges with Beijing.

Fidan had met in Beijing the previous day with Chen Wenqing, a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the CPC Political and Legal Affairs Commission. According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, Chen Wenqing told Fidan that in recent years the two presidents, Xi Jinping and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have reached a consensus on deepening China-Turkey strategic cooperation and drawn up a long-term plan for the development of bilateral relations. Chen noted that China is willing to join hands with Turkey, take the consensus of the two leaders as a guide, promote bilateral security cooperation to a new level, better safeguard the security interests of the two countries, and make the development strategy of the two countries converge.

Harmonisation of the Belt and Road and the Middle Corridor

Minister Fidan also delivered a speech on “Turkey-China Relations in a Changing World Order” at the China and Globalisation Centre think-tank in Beijing the previous day.

In his speech, Fidan said that Turkey’s geo-strategic position and extensive trade relations provide free and easy access to a $28 trillion market with a population of around 1.5 billion, stretching from Europe to the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.

Fidan also touched on the Caspian Trans-Caspian East-West Central Corridor initiative, which will run from Turkey through the Caucasus, Caspian Sea and Central Asian states to China, in parallel with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Noting that the Middle Corridor will shorten the land route between Europe and Asia by 2,000 kilometres and the sea route by 15 days, Fidan said the initiative is in natural harmony with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Noting that the Middle Corridor provides uninterrupted and faster access to the Black Sea and Mediterranean basins, as well as Europe and Africa, Fidan recalled that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with China in 2015 to harmonise the two initiatives and enhance cooperation.

Noting the importance of harmonising the Central Corridor with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Fidan stressed that the project has become even more important at this time, when the Russian-Ukrainian war continues and the war in Gaza affects the Red Sea, and geopolitical risks are increasing.

Fidan stressed the importance of creating synergies between the Central Corridor and the Belt and Road Initiative with other connectivity projects, such as the Development Road Project, which could link Eurasian economic powerhouses for prosperous regional integration.

‘Of course we want to be a member of BRICS’

Turkey is in a customs union with Brussels but is also exploring new opportunities for cooperation with various partners on different platforms such as BRICS, a group of 10 emerging economies, said Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

“Of course we want to become a member of BRICS. We will see how this year goes,” he said.

Fidan also said he was looking forward to attending next week’s meeting of the mechanism in Russia, where BRICS foreign ministers will meet ahead of the October summit in Kazan.

One of the topics on the agenda is expected to be the possibility of NATO ally Turkey joining the BRICS group.

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German proposal for Huawei curbs triggers telecom operator backlash

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On Thursday night, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Germany expressed strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to Germany’s decision to exclude Huawei and ZTE telecom equipment from the 5G network, warning that the move will seriously undermine mutual trust between the two sides and also affect future cooperation between China and the EU in related fields.

Chinese experts who have evaluated the issue also said on Friday that Germany’s decision shows that it is under further pressure from the US and the EU, noting that excluding Chinese components from the 5G network will have a significant cost and hinder the country’s communications development.

In a preliminary agreement due to “security concerns”, the German government and the country’s telecoms operators have agreed in principle on steps to remove components made by Chinese companies from the country’s 5G mobile network over the next five years, Reuters reported on Thursday.

In response, the Chinese spokesperson said that Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese communications companies have long been operating in Germany in accordance with the law and have made a positive contribution to Germany’s digitalisation process.

The alleged cybersecurity risk is “nothing more than an excuse”, the spokesperson said, adding that it is essentially the behaviour of individual countries to pressure their competitors in order to maintain their own scientific and technological hegemony. In fact, no country has yet provided conclusive evidence of the existence of safety risks in the equipment of Chinese companies, the spokesperson added.

“The German side’s announcement of the decision during the NATO summit in Washington has caused China to seriously question the independence of Berlin’s decision-making,” the spokesman said.

The Chinese official said Germany’s move was “blatant political discrimination” that seriously undermined mutual trust between the two sides and would also affect future China-EU cooperation in related areas.

“Germany’s move can be seen as politicising economic cooperation, as it is now facing more pressure from the US and the EU,” Sun Yanhong, a senior research fellow at the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.

Sun noted that Germany’s digital infrastructure is relatively backward, while Huawei and ZTE’s equipment is leading in terms of technology, integrated solutions and low-cost products, which will be a “loss” for Germany.

“The cost of the transition is expected to be significant, which will limit the development of all areas of the country’s digital economy, including smart driving, smart healthcare and production automation factories,” the expert warned.

Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy spokesperson stressed that Beijing will take necessary measures to protect the legitimate interests of Chinese companies.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian also said at a press conference on Thursday that China hopes Germany will respect facts and make reasonable decisions, and urges the European country to create a fair market environment for enterprises from all countries, including Chinese enterprises.

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NATO final declaration targets China and Russia

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The final declaration of the NATO summit in Washington has been released.

While the summit, which marked the 75th anniversary of the Alliance, was full of meetings, the final declaration was dominated by the war in Ukraine and harsh words for China and Russia.

The declaration emphasised that NATO is a “defence alliance” and stressed that the Alliance’s three main missions are deterrence and defence, crisis prevention and management, and cooperative security.

“Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has disrupted peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region and seriously damaged global security,” NATO said, declaring that Russia “remains the most significant and immediate threat to the security of our Allies”.

“Conflict, fragility and instability in Africa and the Middle East directly affect our security and that of our partners,” the statement said, making no reference to Israel’s occupation of Gaza.

NATO accused Iran of affecting Euro-Atlantic security through “destabilising” actions and argued that “the stated objectives and coercive policies of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continue to challenge NATO’s interests, security and values”.

“The deepening strategic partnership between Russia and the People’s Republic of China and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undermine and reshape the rules-based international order are of deep concern,” the declaration said.

NATO members said they could not rule out the possibility of an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of allied countries and said they would continue to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence “against all threats and challenges, in all domains and in multiple strategic directions in the Euro-Atlantic area”.

Military coordination centre established in Ukraine

“We reaffirm our unwavering solidarity with the people of Ukraine in their heroic defence of their nation, their territory and our shared values,” NATO said in a statement. NATO has decided to establish NATO Security Assistance and Training for Ukraine (NSATU) to coordinate the provision of military equipment and training to Ukraine by Allies and Partners.

NSATU, which will operate in allied countries, will “support Ukraine’s self-defence in accordance with the UN Charter”.

It will “not make NATO a party to the conflict, in accordance with international law” and will “support the transformation of Ukraine’s defence and security forces and ensure their further integration into NATO”.

The Allies argued that Ukraine’s future lies in NATO, and that Kiev is becoming increasingly interoperable and politically integrated with NATO.

While support for Ukraine’s NATO membership was reaffirmed, the condition of “meeting the conditions” was once again on the agenda.

Russia urged to withdraw from Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine

It also called on Russia to stop the war immediately and to withdraw all its forces from Ukraine completely and unconditionally in accordance with UN General Assembly resolutions.

“We also call on Russia to withdraw all forces deployed in Moldova and Georgia without their consent,” NATO said, declaring that it would never recognise Russia’s “illegal annexation” of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.

Claiming that Russia is seeking to “fundamentally restructure” the Euro-Atlantic security architecture, NATO said: “The threat posed by Russia to NATO in all domains will persist over the long term. Russia is rebuilding and expanding its military capabilities, continuing its airspace violations and provocative activities,” NATO said.

NATO insisted it was not a threat to Russia and said it was ready to maintain channels of communication with Moscow to reduce risks and avoid escalation.

Warnings to Russia about Belarus, Iran and China

The NATO statement called on all countries not to support “Russian aggression” and condemned “all those who facilitate and prolong Russia’s war in Ukraine”.

“Belarus continues to facilitate this war by providing its territory and infrastructure,” NATO said, adding that Belarus’ deepening political and military integration with Russia “has negative consequences for regional stability and the defence of the Alliance”.

Arguing that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran were fuelling the war by providing direct military support to Russia, such as munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), NATO said it “strongly condemns the DPRK’s export of artillery shells and ballistic missiles in violation of numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions” and noted “with great concern the deepening ties between North Korea and Russia”.

“Iran’s transfer of ballistic missiles and related technology to Russia would constitute a serious escalation,” the statement said.

China in the crosshairs

“This increases the threat Russia poses to its neighbours and to Euro-Atlantic security,” NATO said, arguing that China has become a “decisive supporter” of Russia in the Ukraine war.

“This includes the transfer of dual-use items such as weapons components, equipment and raw materials that are inputs for Russia’s defence sector,” NATO said, calling on China to cut off all financial and political support for Russia’s war effort.

Indo-Pacific pivot to continue

“The Indo-Pacific region is important to NATO because developments in the region have a direct impact on Euro-Atlantic security,” NATO said, announcing that it would meet with the leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the European Union to discuss “common security challenges and areas of cooperation”.

“We are strengthening dialogue to address cross-regional challenges and enhancing our practical cooperation, including pioneering projects in support of Ukraine, cyber defence, counter-disinformation and technology,” NATO said, stressing that it “welcomes” the continued contribution of NATO’s Asia-Pacific partners to Euro-Atlantic security.

Liaison office opened in Jordan

Describing the countries of the Middle East as “NATO’s southern neighbours”, the declaration invited the Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative for the Southern Neighbourhood to serve as NATO’s focal point in the region and to coordinate NATO’s efforts.

In this context, the Allies also announced that they had agreed to open a NATO Liaison Office in Amman with the Kingdom of Jordan.

“Building on the success of the NATO Mission in Iraq (NMI) and at the request of the Iraqi authorities, we have expanded our support to the Iraqi security institutions and will continue our engagement through the NMI,” NATO said.

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The NATO summit begins in Washington: Ukraine and Trump top agenda

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The leaders of 32 NATO member states gather in Washington today (Tuesday 9 July) for a three-day summit.

NATO’s alliance against the Soviet Union and communism was launched in Washington exactly 75 years ago, on 4 April 1949, with the agreement of 12 countries. A commemorative programme to mark the 75th anniversary is expected to take place on 9 July, the first day of the summit.

The war in Ukraine, a possible Donald Trump presidency and fissures within the alliance will dominate the summit agenda.

40 billion aid package for Kyiv

NATO leaders are expected to pledge €40 billion in one-year aid to Ukraine this week, as key alliance members face domestic political turmoil that limits their ability to commit longer-term resources to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said ahead of the summit: “Of course in democracies we can never give guarantees. We do not live in that world. But we live in a world where good outcomes are maximised and bad outcomes are minimised,” he said.

Stoltenberg added that the €40 billion pledged for Ukraine next year is an improvement on the current situation, where individual contributions are not always transparent or calculated according to the same criteria.

However, the new plan is less ambitious than NATO’s original proposal for a $100 billion multi-year assistance package.

“You can argue about whether the glass is half full, but the glass is more than half full,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

Nato will not issue a formal invitation to Ukraine to join the alliance, the outcome Zelensky’s government most wants. But a senior Biden administration official told the Financial Times that the allies would make “significant” statements of support for Ukraine, including “new steps” to strengthen its air defences.

US President Joe Biden will also host an event on Thursday with Zelensky and nearly two dozen allies who have signed bilateral security agreements with Kyiv.

US election tensions

In the US, the Alliance’s engine room, discussions on Trump’s approach to NATO and Biden’s candidacy are on the agenda ahead of the November elections.

Biden is hosting the summit amid growing calls for him to suspend his re-election campaign to allow another Democrat to take on Donald Trump in November.

Trump, who leads Biden in most national and swing state polls, has threatened to withdraw from NATO if elected to another four-year term. The former president has also repeatedly promised to end military support for Ukraine.

According to interviews with former Trump national security officials and defence experts who are likely to serve in a second Trump term, Trump is unlikely to leave NATO altogether.

According to an analysis published in Politico, in exchange for continued US participation, Trump will not only expect European countries to substantially increase their spending on NATO, but will also undertake what has been described as a “radical reorientation” of the organisation.

Call for members to increase defence spending

Another area of concern is the need to increase defence budgets across NATO to ensure that all countries meet the 2 per cent of GDP spending target, while maintaining support for Kyiv.

This will be a key priority for Mark Rutte, who takes over from Stoltenberg on 1 October.

Alliance diplomats warn that this will be complicated by taxpayers’ resistance to increased defence budgets.

Managing internal tensions: Orban a cause for concern

Another challenge is managing divisions within the alliance, as illustrated by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s controversial trip to Moscow last week to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Orban, one of NATO’s most prominent sceptics of supporting Kyiv, vetoed Rutte’s appointment last month, exempting him from NATO activities in support of Ukraine.

A Biden administration official told the FT that the US was “concerned” about Orban’s trip, which “will not advance the cause of peace or support Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence”.

“Concerns always arise and we always prove that we are resilient,” Stoltenberg said, adding that NATO had always managed to resolve internal divisions since its creation in 1949.

Berlin and Washington’s objections to the joint statement

In the final negotiations of the summit declaration, the US and Germany led efforts to oppose the inclusion of a reference to Ukraine’s path to NATO membership being “irreversible”, as demanded by many other allies, especially in Eastern Europe.

US and German scepticism about Ukraine’s membership has not yet been overcome.

Officials say that Kyiv needs to undertake major structural reforms and that formal progress on membership is unlikely until the war is over.

A senior US State Department official told the FT: “Every time we have contact with the Ukrainians […] we have been clear about the limitations, the need for reform and the fact that part of their territory is occupied”.

Instead, NATO will offer Ukraine a package of support that includes control of much of the coordination of military aid to Kyiv, a role previously played by the US, and leadership of several national programmes to train Ukrainian troops in Poland.

The operation will not be officially labelled a “NATO mission” after Berlin, wary of anything implying that NATO is a direct participant in the conflict, refused to endorse such terminology as too militaristic.

Tougher language on China expected

Meanwhile, Nato allies are expected to agree on tougher language than before on China to condemn Beijing for its economic support for Moscow in the war in Ukraine.

China’s support includes increased supplies of technology such as microchips and chemicals intended for civilian use but used to make Russian weapons.

According to senior White House sources quoted by Hurriyet, the NATO summit will not only bring Ukraine closer to NATO and build a “bridge” to eventual membership, but will also send a message to China in the Pacific.

Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand will also attend the summit, which the senior official said would “send an important message to the world through our partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region”.

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