The ties between China and Türkiye can be dated back to the ancient Silk Road. Now as the Belt and Road Initiative marks its tenth anniversary, the two sides continue to deepen their relations in the new era. Türkiye has strong economic relations with China and is one of the very early partners of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In November 2015, China and Türkiye signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Aligning the China-led Belt and Road Initiative and the Türkiye-led Middle Corridor Initiative.
As an emerging market located as a gateway between European and Asian producers and markets, Türkiye aims to become a transportation and logistics hub linking these two continents. As part of this Turkish government have sought to improve transportation, telecommunications, and energy infrastructure.
In 2018, Türkiye State Railways and the Chinese Ministry of Transport reached an agreement for the construction of a high-speed railway linking Edirne to Kars, namely the western and eastern borders of Türkiye. In addition to high-speed railways, the two countries cooperate on light rail systems such as the Batıkent–Sincan metro line in Ankara and several metro lines in Istanbul.
Türkiye’s enthusiasm to engage with the BRI can be seen from its active status in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a China-led international investment bank created to financially support BRI projects. As a regional founding member of the AIIB, as of March 2023, for its 18 projects, Türkiye has borrowed USD 3,753 million from the bank. With this amount, Türkiye ranks as the number 2 borrower, after India.
Türkiye is also in need of telecommunication and energy investments, and is in the process of building its 5G infrastructure. Despite pressure by the US to limit Huawei’s role both the Turkish government and private companies prefer to partner with Huawei, and in early 2022 the Chinese company signed a memorandum of understanding with telecommunications provider Türk Telekom to develop a 5G network in Türkiye.
Türkiye has also worked with China to build its largest-ever coal-powered plant and China’s largest-ever investment in Türkiye , Hunutlu Thermal Power Plant. There have been relatively few major renewable energy projects involving China, however Turkish and Chinese private companies continue to partner in especially solar energy projects. Chinese owned Talesun Solar, part of the Zhongli Group, supplied the solar modules for Türkiye’s largest hybrid solar-hydro project – the 80 MW plant is located in Bingöl Province, Turkey (See cover photo).