Perception and misperception between China and Turkey
Abstract: Mutual perception between Turkey and China is one of the major issues for the bilateral relations. The degree of favorability to each other is extremely low. The influential factors include: the issue of ‘Eastern Turkistan’, the historical memory, trade imbalance and the media’s adverse coverage. To solve the low favorability issue, the two sides should not only depend on institutional exchange and dialogue , but also on informal social and cultural interactions to enhance their mutual understanding.
Key Words: People to People’s Perception，Degree of Favorability，Eastern Turkistan，Historical Memory，Trade Imbalance
I. Increasingly prominent issues between China and Turkey—mutual perception between the public.
Concerning the relations between China and Turkey, Chinese and foreign scholars usually focus on their political, economic, military, and even cultural relations. They have achieved a lot. However, another dimension in the China-Turkey relations is that the public opinion, i.e., the degree of favorability, is neglected. The degree of favorability is an important indicator in measuring the development of bilateral relations; viewing bilateral strategic cooperation, social exchanges, media coverage and public psychological identification; inspecting the bilateral relations between Chinese and Turkey as a whole.
Public opinion plays an increasingly important role in a country's foreign relations,partly because government policy formulation may be easily influenced by public opinion. Moreover, with the improvement of social governance, and the growing role of some civil society organizations, particularly non-governmental organizations, public opinion has become an important force to influence decision-making. Sino-Japanese relations could be taken as a typical example of civil society and public opinion forces being one of the main obstacles to the development of bilateral relations. In the relations between China and Turkey, the author found a similar problem that intergovernmental contacts are relatively smooth. China and Turkey established the strategic partnership in October 2010, which further promotes the bilateral cooperation of economy, trade, energy, political and military security. Vice President Xi Jinping visited Turkey in February 2012, and in April of the same year, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to China elevated the bilateral strategic interactions to a new level. However, the issue of public opinion has become a bottleneck to the development of bilateral relations.
There is a regular phenomenon on China's public opinion that in regard to the bilateral public opinion on favorability, Chinese hold the view that the bilateral relations are “no better than Sino-Pakistani’s and no worse than Sino-Japanese’s” surveyed by international community. It means that in the cognition of public opinion, the Chinese and Pakistanis share the highest degree of favorability but the Chinese and Japanese the lowest. However, in recent years, there is a tendency that the favorability of China and Turkey for each other gradually closes to or even replaces that of Sino-Japanese to be the lowest in all bilateral relations.
In this article, the author explores the reasons for these existing problems in bilateral relations and thereby provides the corresponding solutions by investigating the bilateral relations on the basis of the public opinion on favorability of China and Turkey for each other.
II. What is the mutual perception between China and Turkey
( I ) Chinese public’s degree of favorability towards Turkey
Chinese scholars seldom conduct relevant research on the Chinese perception of Turkey. In order to fill in this vacuum, the author cooperated with huanqiu.com to make the relevant online survey. The survey was carried out from December 2011 to March 2012 and Chinese people’s knowledge of and favorability to Turkey was included.
As to the Chinese knowledge of Turkey, huanqiu.com conducted the investigation on “how to use the key words to describe Turkey”. The survey showed that Chinese netizens’ image of Turkey is mainly made up of two aspects: “the camps of East Turkistan” (12.2%) and “the inheritor of the empire” (9.6%). The summary of this survey is the following (see Table I):
Table I: Chinese Netizens’ Views of Turkey
Key Words % Key Words %
East Turkistan 12.2 Separation of Religion from Politics 1.7
Ottoman Empire 11.3 Troy 1.7
Between Asia and Europe 9.6 Ankara 1.6
Istanbul 9.0 Kema l1.4
Pro-America 6.9 Weight Lifting 1.4
The Turks 6.8 Football 1.3
NATO Member 6.4 Dirty and Messy 1.1
Kurdish Minority Issue 6.0 Beautiful Girl 1.0
Muslim 4.6 Spice 0.9
Silk Road 3.6 Dance 0.9
The Bosporus and the
Dardanelles Strait 3.3 Ankara Sheep 0.7
The Byzantine 3.2 Spy 0.4
Developing Country 1.9 Handsome Boy 0.2
From Table I we can find out that the Chinese image of Turkey shows a complicated picture. On one side, the problem of “East Turkistan” dominated the knowledge of Chinese people about Turkey. A few identities could be found out from this survey, for example, the Developing Country and Silk Road, however, most of the key words show the heterogeneity of these two countries, i.e. Between the Asia and Europe, Pro-America, NATO Member, Muslim and etc. So in Chinese eyes, China and Turkey are short of common sense.
Concerning Chinese favorability to Turkey, the author cooperated with huanqiu.com to conduct the survey from 19 to 20 March, 2012. There are altogether 2357 respondents writing down their degree of favorability to Turkey. The detailed information is the following (see Table II):
Table II: Chinese Favorability to Turkish People
Degree of favorability Percentage (%)
Very favorable 3.1
Somewhat favorable 14.6
Somewhat unfavorable 45.5
Very unfavorable 22.0
Do not know 14.8
From Table II we can find that the “Somewhat Unfavorable” is at the highest rank which accounts for 45.5% and the second is “Very Unfavorable” which accounts for 22%. “Somewhat Favorable” is only 14.6% and “Very Favorable” is the lowest rank which is 3.1%. In sum, the Chinese degree of favorability to Turkey is disappointing. Most of the Chinese netizens show their unfavorability to Turkey.
For Chinese, Japan is the least favorable country. However, after comparing relative domestic survey with the survey conducted by Huanqiu.com, the author can conclude that both Turkey and Japan should be listed as the least favorable countries to Chinese. The 26, 972 internet survey results of the National Research Group of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences jointly conducted by People.com from October to November of 2008 revealed that in terms of important international actors, Japan is the least favorable country to Chinese. Among the respondents, 9.2% hold favorable attitude towards Japan while 60.8% not. Compared with the survey conducted by Huanqiu.com, the degree of favorability of Chinese towards Turkey is lower than that of Japan (9.2% vs. 17.7%), however, the unfavorability degree of Chinese to Turkey is higher than that of Japan (67.5% vs. 60.8%). Several special research programs conducted by the Institute of Japanese Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences also prove the fact that both Turkey and Japan are the least favorable countries for Chinese. In the survey of “How do Chinese people view Japan” conducted in 2007, the degree of favorability of Chinese towards Japan is 7.5% while the degree of unfavorability is 52.9%. Then in the same titled survey conducted in 2008, the degree of favorability of Chinese towards Japan is 6% while the unfavorability is 58.6%. Although the degree of favorability of both surveys is lower than those conducted by Huanqiu.com, the unfavorability degree is higher than those of Huanqiu.com. Despite the above comparison is not so strict and precise, it still can be concluded after comprehensive comparison that Turkey is among the least favorite countries (taking both the degree of favorability and the unfavorability degrees into account) in the eyes of Chinese.
( II ) Turkish public’s degree of favorability towards Chinese
Due to the shortage of relevant survey on Turkish favorability to China, the author cited the survey data of “Pew Global Attitudes Project”conducted by the Pew Company of America. Pew’s survey shows that from 2005 to 2011, Turkey is not only the least favorable country to China among European countries, but also the least to China in the world. On most occasions, we can also find that this favorability is gradually decreasing year by year.
From Charter I we can find that Turkey is the lowest degree of favorability to China in all respondent European countries from 2005 to 2011 and what’s more, the degree of favorability shows the decreasing tendency from 27% in 2005 to 18% in 2011. From 2008 to 2011, its favorability was lingering around 20%. At the same time, Russia keeps the highest degree of favorability to China at around 60%. Germany is the second lowest degree of favorability to China which is keeping the point of around 30%. The detail is attached to the following (see Chapter I):
Charter I: The Degree of Favorability to China from European Countries
Compared with all the other respondent countries surveyed by the Pew Company, Turkey is usually the least favorable countries to China (Sometime Japan is the least to China. In 2005, Poland is least). In this article, the author summarizes the six least favorable respondent countries to China each year as the following (see Table III):
Table III: The Six Least Favorable Respondent Countries to China
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Poland37% Japan27% Turkey25% Japan14% Turkey16% Turkey20% Turkey18%
Turkey40% Turkey33% Morocco26% Turkey24% Japan26% Japan26% India25%
America43% Spain45% Italy27% Germany26% Germany29% Germany30% Japan34%
Jordan43% Jordan49% Japan29% France28% Mexico39% S Korean38% Germany34%
Germany46% America52% Argentina32% Spain31% Spain40% Mexico39% Mexico39%
Holland56% Germany56% Germany34% Poland33% S.Korean41% France41% Jordan44%
From Table III, we can find that among the respondent countries in the world, Turkey is one of the least favorable countries to China as well. In 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, the degree of favorability is the lowest. Sometimes, the outcome of opinion poll will be occasional due to different situations. However, this successive least favorability keeps stable for a long time. It testifies the reality of Turkish pessimistic attitudes towards China.
III. Root causes of the low degree of favorability between the two countries
There are various reasons affecting the degree of favorability between Chinese and Turkish people, such as the competition for specific interests, the differences of ideology, conception and system, the factor of the long history, the geographic factor (the two countries are too far from each other and lack of understanding) and so on. The author makes a detailed classification on the reasons of the low favorability degree towards Turkey held by the Chinese and carried out an internet survey on these reasons together with the Huanqiu.com. Please see table IIII for details.
Table IIII: The reasons why Chinese people have low favorability to Turkish (multiple)
The reasons of the low favorability degree Percentage
Some governmental or non-governmental organizations openly or
covertly support the separatist forces of East Turkistan. 29.2%
The historical memory is not good. Turkey often infiltrated
Pan-Turkism into Xinjiang in history. During the Cold War,
China belonged to the socialism camp while Turkey the capitalist
camp. They used to fight in the Korea battlefield and Turkey was
one accomplice of US. 26.0%
Affected by the western media, the public opinion of Turkey is
not proactive to China on many issues. 22.3%
Turkey often uses the imbalanced trade to condemn China. 7.9%
Geographically, Turkey is comparatively far from China, so the
Chinese people are not familiar with Turkey and have no impression. 6.2%
There are differences of social systems and values between
the two countries. 4.6%
When illustrating the root causes of the low favorability degree, the first choice of the Chinese people is “Some governmental or non-governmental organizations openly or covertly support the separatist forces of East Turkistan” accounting for 29.2%. The issue of the national secession is the pain of China; therefore, China extremely hates Turkey to support the secession activities. The second is the historical issue, namely, “The historical memory is not good. Turkey often infiltrated Pan-Turkism into Xinjiang in history. During the Cold War, China belonged to the socialism camp while Turkey the capitalist camp. “They used to fight in the Korea battlefield and Turkey was an accomplice of US”, accounts for 26%. While “Affected by the western media, the public opinion of Turkey is not proactive to China on many issues.” ranks the third and accounts for 22.3%. “Turkey often uses the imbalanced trade to condemn China” is listed as the fourth reason. That means the East Turkistan issue, the historical memory, the negative comments on China of the western and the Turkish public opinion constitute the main influential factors. The trade imbalance is not an obvious factor affecting the favorability degree toward Turkey by China (The proportion is less than 10%, far below the first three options).
Currently there is no survey on the low favorability degree for China by Turkey by international scholars, however, by analyzing the Chinese and foreign literature , we can generally conclude that the East Turkistan issue, the affect of the western media, the historical memory and the trade imbalance are four major reasons affecting the view of Turkey towards China. In general, the factors affecting the view to each other between China and Turkey are comparatively the same. The author will analyze these influential factors below.
Firstly, the East Turkistan is the most serious issue existing between China and Turkey and it is also the most prominent issue constantly affecting the public opinion of the two countries.
Pan-Turkism has sprung up as an international thought in the modern history, which called on revitalizing the Turks culture and national consciousness and then preached to unite with the nations who are Turkic language speakers to establish one “Great Turks Country”. The countries with Turkic language speakers in the world mainly locate at Central Asia and Western Asia. The population amounted to 170 million among which the greatest percentage population (as to 70 million) is in Turkey. Given that advocating Pan-Turkism is beneficial for enhancing its influence in Central Asia and Western Asia as well as raising its position in the Turkic speaking ethnics and the status of regional powers, Turkey, the foremost Turkic speaking country, carries the Pan-Turkism banner. In the summit meeting of the six Turkic language states (Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan) in 1991, Turkish President Özal proposed that: “We have a common root; We are the branches of the same tree and the branches of the same family. If we can make evaluation without errors for the historic opportunity, then we will turn the 21st century to the century of Turks.”After that, Turkey attempted to draw in all the countries in Central Asia and Western Asia, intensify the ethnic identity, and build up a Turkish national association in its own lead including all the Turkic language countries and ethnics, namely, the six Turkic language states, Chechnya of Russia, Tatarstan and Xinjiang area of China. By seizing the chance, the East Turkistan secessionist forces of Xinjiang in China also find their belonging and base camp of activity--Turkey. Due to the similarity of language, culture and religion, it is very easy for the East Turkestan terrorists to integrate into the Turkish society. In response, the Turkish people have always regarded the Pan-Turkism followers in Xinjiang, especially the East Turkistan terrorists, as their brothers. In February 1992, the Turkish National Action Party even held an anti-Chinese assembly in Istanbul to support the East Turkish terrorist, clamoring to fight for the liberation of East Turkistan and to carry out the cause of uniting Tujue to the end until the last drop of blood is drained out. The East Turkistan terrorists proactively cater to the yearning of the large Turkistan of some elites in Turkey, preaching that they will separate Xinjiang from China to establish the independent East Turkistan and eventually merge into the large Turkistan.
Currently, the East Turkistan terrorists are very rampant. They have established a lot of organizations in Turkey, such as the East Turkistan Culture Association, the Women’s Association of East Turkistan, the East Turkistan Youth Union and so forth. They hold many international meetings and conferences, attack China in excuse of “democracy” and “human rights”, and even openly attack the Chinese embassies and consulates in Turkey and blatantly burn the national flag of China. In the past 20 years, the East Turkistan terrorists have created hundreds of violent incidents in Xinjiang, China, including the “July 5th Incident” in 2009, with 197 people being killed and over 1,700 injured. The separatist activities of the East Turkistan terrorists pose serious threat to the stability and security of the northwest border of China. In response, the Chinese government has taken drastic measures to resolutely crack down on the separatist activities of the East Turkistan at home and abroad. Although the East Turkistan separatist forces is explicitly listed as one of the terrorist forces by the United Nations, yet the close relationship between the East Turkistan and Pan-Turkism makes some Turks hold strong dissatisfaction and unfriendly attitude towards the anti-separatist actions of China. They regard the countering separatist forces of China in Xinjiang as a kind of ethnic discrimination and repression policy. As a result of it, their favorability to China remains at a low level. It is worth to mention that the Turkish government taking the opportunity to “add insult to injury” also plays a bad role in misleading the public opinion. After the “July 5th Incident”, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a statement on July 10, claiming that “this behavior is a kind of genocide.” On July 11, he appealed China to abandon its assimilation policy, for the policy will not bring any benefits.” He even “promised” the granting of entry visa for Rebiya Kadeer, the leader of East Turkistan separatist forces. On July 12, he intentionally indulged the domestic anti-China demonstration, and asked the Chinese government to properly deal with the issue of human rights and to prosecute the “criminals”. The Turkish demonstrators in Istanbul burned the Chinese flag to show their protests. However, without knowing the detailed background of the “July 5th Incident”, the Prime Minister of Turkey blatantly interfered in China’s internal affairs and misled the public opinion. This also directly triggered the result of the opinion polls of the Turkish people’s favorability to China in 2009 conducted by Pew Research Center which lowed down to a freezing point of 16%. The primary reason for Turkish people’s low favorability to China is the misunderstanding of public opinion, the prejudice for the ethnic policy of China, the improper government guidance and the long-term adverse effects of the Pan-Turkism thought.
On the other side, the national sovereignty and territorial integrity are the core interests of China. The continuous interference in the unity and security of China by Turkish official and civilian has triggered a bad impression of Chinese public opinion on Turkey. Particularly after the “July 5th Incident”, the government of Turkey infuriated the Chinese people by blatantly interfering in Chinese internal affairs and supporting the separatist forces. Qin Gang, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, and Yang Jiechi, Chinese Foreign Minister, both of them expressed discontents via a variety of ways to Turkey about their improper words and deeds.Meanwhile, the lopsided criticism on the deeds of Turkish official and civilian by the powerful Chinese internet public opinion became the hottest public trend of thought at that time. Some citizens called Erdogan the “copycat politician”（山寨政治家）due to his disregarding of the facts and fabricating of the speech of “genocide”; Someone condemned Turkey being “once on shore, one prays no more”（好了伤疤忘了疼）for the meddling in the Chinese ethnic policy but ignoring the domestic issue of Kurdish and other ethnic minorities; Someone also stressed that “Turkey should wake up from the illusive dreams of Great Tujue”and “Erdogan should be responsible for his lies”, and so on. After the bilateral interactions in the wake of the “July 5th Incident”, Turkey has become the object of criticism by Chinese public opinion. The negative public opinion of Chinese to Turkey has climbed to the peak, while the favorability fell down accordingly.
Secondly, the historical memory has an enormous impact on the public favorability between these two countries. China and Turkey are far apart from each other and lack of mutual understanding. As a result, some historical memory can be easily solidified, hence the prevalence of the old views and ideas.
After the Cold War, the Turkish governing elite took a very strong anti-communist stance. Turkey had been keeping a good relation with Taiwan since the foundation of New China in 1949 until the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and Turkey in the early 1970s. In the Korean War, as a loyal ally of the United States, Turkey dispatched a 2,000-man troop to take part in the so-called “United Nations Command” dominated by America. However, after the direct confrontation on the battlefield, the Turkish soldiers were defeated by the Chinese People’s Volunteers Army, which became an unforgettable experience of Turkish elites. The expression about the war written by those elites has gradually infiltrated into the memory of the public and became an indelible scar in their mind.
Turkey has been the “vanguard” against China in NATO camp for a long time. The historical experience built up a solid anti-China ideological defense line in the social psychology of the Turkish people. After survey, Turkish scholar Çağdaş Üngör concluded that when viewing China, the Turkish media did not get rid of the “ideological perspective” for a long period of time. Due to the geographical distance, the lack of communication and the unfamiliarity with the development of China in recent years, the Turkish people affected by media is full of imagination and conjecture to China and their cognition on China even usually remains as the one in the Cold War era. According to the historical record of Turkish, China is a country “full of unrest and totalitarian”: The communist regime being “rectified” now and then cadres being “corrected for unhealthy tendencies”, and farmers being instigated to “revolt”, all of which are exactly the symbol of instability and degeneration; “The Communist Party is a minority lacking of legitimacy. It is a communist elite party built on the basis of the ignorance of the poor and ethnic minorities and it adopts centralization with repressive policy”. Undoubtedly, the Turkish people are easily to be misled by such propaganda and regard China as a “heterogeneous nation” lacking of long-term identity.
For China, overwhelming majority of the Chinese people do not have profound impression on Turkey except for their infiltrations and sabotage activities in Xinjiang in the period of Ottoman Empire. The interweaving of the historic “old accounts” with the current issue of “East Turkistan” has invisibly strengthened the Chinese populace’s bad memories on the history of Sino-Turkish relations. Meanwhile, “imperialist lackey” is one of the “representative images” of Turkey in the Chinese populace’s memories. China’s criticism of Turkey’s “lackey route” reached a climax especially in the era of Menderes Government of the 1950s. “Turkey, under the reactionary rule of Menderes Government” indicated that “since coming to power in May 1950, the Menderes Government has intertwined Turkey with America’s external war plan tightly over the past decade, which has turned Turkey into a semi-colony. Moreover, they implement extreme brutal fascism internally and it is their misdeed that has pushed the Turkish people into the abyss of misery. Menderes Government’s domestic and foreign policies do harm to the interests of the Turkish people and spark off fierce opposition of the majority”, reported on the fifth edition of the "People's Daily" on May 4, 1960. Meanwhile, Chinese populace gave strong public opinion support for Turkish people’s opposing the oppressive rule of Menderes Government and the cooperation between Turkey and the United States. At that time, Chinese newspapers largely reported and actively supported Turkey’s anti-government protests and publicly advocated the leftist movement in Turkey. A survey on “keywords” of Chinese populace’s impression of all countries throughout the world, investigated by Huanqiu.com in December 2011, confirmed the continuing presence and influence of the historical memory mentioned above from the other side. Some key words listed firstly in China’s impression of Turkey are “East Turkistan”, “Ottoman Empire” (used to infiltrate in Xinjiang), “Pro-American” and “NATO member country.” Time is changing, but historical memory has not been cleansed. A sense of unfriendliness to each other has been strengthened after current specific events and become an important factor in influencing public opinion.
Thirdly, the imbalance of Sino-Turkish trade has affected the two countries populace’s opinion. Sino-Turkish total bilateral trade amounted to 24.16 billion US dollars in 2011, increased by 24.2 percent year-on-year;Turkey’s export to China was 2.47 billion US dollars with an increase of 8.7 percent and its import from China was 21.69 billion US dollars, rose by 26.3 percent. Consequently, Turkey’s trade deficit to China was $ 19.23 billion US dollars. According to the Turkish Statistical data, Sino-Turkish trade amounted to 9.68 billion US dollars in the first five months of 2012 and was almost flat with a year earlier. To be more specific, Turkey’s export to China was 1.02 billion US dollars with a year-on-year growth of 18.6 percent and the import from China was 8.66 billion US dollars, decreased by 1 percent. Although the trade deficit declined to 7.63 billion US dollars, it was still high. At present, China is Turkey’s the third largest trading partner, the third largest import source country, as well as the first major deficit country.
As emerging market countries, the industrial development model of China and Turkey is convergent in many areas, which results that it is full of competition between China and Turkey in the development of Turkish domestic market as well as the international market. In Turkey, the populace prefers to use the inexpensive goods from China, which made the local enterprises repeatedly to be threatened. In overseas markets, both China and Turkey regard the EU as the main target market and since 1996 Turkey has established customs union with the EU. But in recent years, China’s productivity and competitiveness have exceeded that of Turkey, no matter in low-end commodities market or midrange products market. In desperation, some Turkish trading companies import goods from China and resell to the European market with the convenience of the customs union between Turkey and the EU to seek the difference profit; what is worse, all have increased the Sino-Turkish trade imbalance. China has been rapidly infiltrating into Turkey’s high-tech fields on which Turkish official and civil societies have placed much emphasis. The trade imbalance gradually affects the vital interests of the majority of Turkish businessmen. Although they are interested in the huge Chinese market, they have little competitiveness to squeeze into, which increases their unfriendliness and negative emotions of public opinion and populace against China. Some Turkish media believe that Chinese goods have been “pouring into every corner of Turkey” and “Chinese goods will be dominant in Turkey.” In recent years, China and Turkey are in exacerbating trade friction. Turkey has initiated dozens of anti-dumping investigations on China and this could be the most dominant performance in Turkey’s dissatisfaction against China.
Turkey took the lead in the implementation of the anti-dumping investigation on Chinese for several times . Similarly, bad repercussions have incubated in public opinion of China populace. Consequently, trade imbalance is not the main influencial factor in China’s view of Turkey; however, it is gradually becoming an important factor to affect Chinese public opinion due to the impact of the Turkish trade countermeasures.
Finally, the continuous low degree of favorability between China and Turkey is also affected by media, especially by the western media coverage. Turkey is committed to integrating into the west from politics, economy, culture, society, laws and other aspects. Its strategic priority lies in Europe - joining EU will make the Turkish people inevitably affected by the western media. It has been the Turkish goal to seek Europeanization and to develop the habits and preferences of observing China in the European way, while some European countries have been critical about the ethnic and human right issues in China. It is generally known that Turkey has a “special relationship” with German, the major power of the EU. The German media are very critical of the ethnic and religious issues in China. Any negative opinion towards China by the German media will be exaggerated by Turkey. From the above public surveys of Pew, it can be concluded that the public perception of Turkish and German keep the same pace. Chater I shows that Germany and Turkey hold the worst perception towards China among European countries and Table III also reveals that the perception of the two countries are very close. In addition, the negative reports from those Turkish elites who had traveled to Xinjiang also affected the Turkish media. The negative coverage of the Western and Turkish media directly causes the Turkish people to be unfriendly to China, which in turn irritates the Chinese media and people, thus a vicious cycle is generated. In fact, the interaction of the negative perception towards each other held by the media and the people of both countries reflect the discrepancies between their systems and values. Turkey is bound to be closer to the West for integration, and China, as the “heresy”, certainly becomes the repellent target. On the contrary, Chinese people become unhappy with Turkey because of the focus reports on Turkish mistaken policy of “Eastern Turkistan” and the criticism on the democracy and human right issues in China by the west.
IV. Specific resolution strategies
To improve the low favorability between China and Turkey is a long-term effort, for which both parties must be patient enough. In general, both countries should not only depend on the official institution of exchange and dialogue, but also on the informal social and cultural interactions to enhance the mutual understanding. For details, the following aspects can be considered:
Firstly, the two sides can establish the “Trade, Investment Promotion & Multilateral Cooperation Foundation of China, Turkey and the Turkic Countries” and set up secretariats in China and Turkey to strengthen the researches, exchanges and cooperation in trade, investment, politics, culture and other fields between China and Turkic countries. The foundation can be served as the coordinating body for China and Turkey to harmonize the cooperation with Turkic regions and sub-regions to keep abreast of relevant tendencies and to promote bilateral cooperation and mutual benefit in the region.
Secondly, with regard to relations between China and Turkey, the nongovernmental exchanges between the two countries can be enhanced and consolidated. The governments can actively support a variety of educational and cultural exchange activities, such as holding cultural festivals, exchanging high-level art troupes and students, mutually supporting language teaching, conducting youth exchange activities and explore substantive cooperation in tourism to broaden channels for mutual understandings and perception.
It is also important to change the previous perception between Chinese and Turkish elites, for their standpoints can guide the people. In view of the weak mutual researches between China and Turkey, they can establish “The Research Fund of China and Turkey Relations” to strengthen deep exchanges in academia and culture, support bilateral research institutions and scholars to carry on academic dialogues on bilateral relations, and update the perception towards each other between the Chinese and Turkish elites.
Thirdly, the weight of both sides in bilateral relations can be raised effectively and bilateral strategic dialogues and exchanges can be institutionalized. The two countries can set up the Chinese and Turkish top-level strategic dialogue, which can be held every two years or once a year when time is right. In the meantime, the identities of the emerging market economies of both countries can be further enhanced on bilateral and multilateral international forums. As the emerging market countries, both China and Turkey can have more cooperation in reforming the international financial and monetary systems, fighting against terrorism, keeping the regional peace and stability and other issues to elevate mutual recognitions and weaken the differences in ideology and values. China and Turkey, both as the economies in transition, can enhance exchanges on mutual transition experiences through formal communication to further promote mutual understandings.
Finally, from a technical perspective, it is also critical to launch deep public opinion surveys to timely and accurately find the root causes of public perceptive disagreements between China and Turkey as well as the possible solutions. The above study only provides preliminary survey data about Chinese and Turkish researches. The author thinks that more accurate data analysis will depend on specific sample surveys on this issue.