China, Turkey to see closer ties, says ambassador

China and Turkey have great potentials to boost ties in economic, political and cultural areas, said Chinese ambassador to Turkey on Sunday, Xinhua reported.
   "The two countries will definitely see closer cooperation in various fields and push their relations to a new level," said Chinese ambassador Gong Xiaosheng in an interview with Xinhua ahead of a state visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gul to China.
   Despite concerns about Turkey's trade deficit with China, economic ties will stay healthy as long as the two sides expand cooperation in such areas as technology, tourism and education to pursue a general trade balance, Gong said.
   China and Turkey saw bilateral trade surge more than 12 times to over 12 billion U.S. dollars in 2008 from 900 million U.S. dollars in 2001, official data showed.
   Gong said the energy and tourism sectors have huge potentials to tap as part of Sino-Turkish economic cooperation for Turkey boasts rich wind and solar energy resources and unique landscapes.
   Gong noted that Chinese tourists have shown increasing interest in Turkey, with more than 60,000 visits made by Chinese to Turkey in 2008, seven years after the latter became China's outbound tourist destination.
   Turkey's favorable policies for foreign companies investing in domestic infrastructure will also provide opportunities for Chinese contractors, he added.
   In a landmark move, China Railway Construction Corp. Ltd., China National Machinery IMP. & EXP. CORP. and their Turkish partners signed in 2005 a 1.269 billion-dollar contract for the second-phase construction of a high-speed railway linking Turkey's capital of Ankara with the largest city of Istanbul.
   In the political area, China and Turkey can strengthen policy coordination and experience sharing in maintaining regional stability and tackling the fallout of the world recession, as the two hold similar stances in many regional and international issues, said Gong.
   The Chinese ambassador called on the two nations to jointly promote an international economic and political order that is in the interests of developing countries.
   High-level exchanges have been frequent between China and Turkey since they established diplomatic relations in 1971, which played an important role in improving mutual understanding and cement friendship, said Gong, adding that cultural and people-to- people exchanges have also boomed.
   Turkey unveiled its first Confucius Institute in the Middle East Technical University in Ankara in 2008 and held picture exhibitions about Beijing before the city hosted the Olympic Games.
   The Turkish "Fire of Anatolia" dance performers have toured Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai in recent years and gained popularity there.
   Gong proposed further promotion of the cultural exchanges to make Chinese and Turkish better understand each other and boost their friendship.
   "China and Turkey are now enjoying a close partnership based on equality, mutual trust and benefit, and we are fully convinced that our future relations will be even better," said Gong.
   At the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao, Gul is scheduled to pay his first state visit to China on June 24-29 since he became the Turkish president in 2007.

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