July 2, 2019 - 12:39 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in Beijing on Tuesday, July 2 to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, as the two countries seek to build on budding economic and political ties at a time both are experiencing a low point in their relations with the United States, Deutsche Welle reports.
Turkey is increasingly estranged from the United States and Western allies over differences on Syria, Ankara's planned purchase of Russia's S-400 missile system and democratic backsliding following the failed coup attempt in June 2016.
The fallout has fueled speculation by some observers that NATO member Turkey may be rebalancing its strategic relations away from the West to the East — not least because Erdogan has suggested Turkey could join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security body composed of China, Russia and four Central Asian nations.
Meanwhile, the ongoing US-China trade dispute coincides with the world's two largest economies being locked in a geopolitical power struggle to define the future world order.
However, Erdogan's eighth meeting with Xi since 2012 is more about economics and diversifying relations, not part of a strategic shift to the East, experts said.
"Turkey's relations with China cannot replace its alliance with the United States or relations with the European Union," said Altay Atli, a lecturer at Koc University in Istanbul who specializes in Turkish-Asian relations. "Turkey has very deep and mutually beneficial relations with the West."
He added that Ankara's foreign policy aims to make Turkey an international actor capable of expanding relations with all countries, unlike during the Cold War when it was tied to the Western bloc.
Kadir Temiz, a faculty member at Istanbul Sehir University, said that although China is becoming an important country for Turkey, the relationship centers on common interests in developing economic ties.
"Their biggest differences are political and geopolitical," he said. "These political and geopolitical differences are likely to come to the fore in the future if there is a greater economic dependency."
One main area of divergence between Ankara and Beijing is over the Syrian civil war, where Turkey has backed the opposition and China has economically and politically supported the regime and Russia's military intervention.