Facebook Twitter 新浪微博 腾讯微博 Wednesday 3 June 2015
English>>Foreign Affairs

Turkey-China missile deal shows divergences between Ankara and NATO

(Global Times)    09:18, March 02, 2015

With or without immense pressure against the deal from its NATO allies, the likelihood of Turkey purchasing air defense system from China is rising. The $3.4 billion deal for China's HQ-9 long-range ground-to-air missiles, which was previously reached in 2013 with the China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corporation, was overshadowed and stalled due to NATO's concern and warning that the "missile systems within the alliance must be compatible with each other." However, according to recent statements of Turkish officials, China is still the front-runner in the bidding.

While analysts have been speculating about why Turkey is likely to stick with Chinese missile defense deal, the fundamental reason is actually quite simple. Just as Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said recently, "China made the best bid in a tender to develop Turkey's planned long-range missile defence system."

Undoubtedly, commercial factors play a significant role in this bidding. In one respect, for example, Chinese missiles enjoy not only excellent quality but also come at a reasonable price. More importantly, Ankara realizes the potential of the Chinese economy and hopes to further strengthen economic ties with China.

In recent years, China and Turkey have enjoyed the steady development of their bilateral trade relations, with China becoming Turkey's second largest source of imports and its third largest trading partner. Hence, Turkey attaches great importance to China, especially since the European debt crisis, when Ankara began sensing that the financial support it could get from Europe became increasingly scarce. Cooperation with Beijing has brought Ankara tangible benefits, which helped the country avoid economic downturn.

In the light of this, Turkey is hoping to maintain the momentum of economic growth by boosting the bilateral interaction of trade, in order to limit the impact of Europe's sluggish economic situation.

According to reports, Turkey has postponed the final decision of this long-running saga to the end of April, and the possibility of canceling the deal remains, due to constant pressure from the US, just like what happened in 2013.

However, by driving a hard bargain over the missile deal this time, divergences between Turkey and NATO have been revealed. This is the second case recently which showed that Ankara is keeping distance from its NATO allies.

Not long ago, Turkey announced that even though it is a NATO member and wants to be part of the EU, it would not follow the West and impose sanctions against Russia. Turkey and Russia recently signed major trade deals, under which Russia will help build Turkey's first ever nuclear power plant and send extra Russian gas to Turkey's pipeline network, which already depends on Russia for over half of its gas. Unquestionably, Turkey doesn't want to lose any partner or chance for its development.

With over half a century as a member of NATO, Turkey has learned the lesson that the benefits it can get from this alliance are quite limited, and it has to maintain its independence as a major regional power, to be able to mind its own business, make its own choices, develop its own national defense industry, or at least, use cooperation with Russia and China as leverage in other bargains with the Europe and NATO.

Thus, when it comes to the missile contract this time, final deal or not, one thing is for certain, that Ankara is considering carefully this time where its self-interest lies during this looming negotiation.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Ma Xiaochun,Yao Chun)

Add your comment

Related reading

We Recommend

Most Viewed


Key Words