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Former Ambassador Aydın Nurhan: “China and Türkiye are the rising powers of the 21st Century

The Belt and Road Initiative that was announced to the world in 2013 by China, is one of the most crucial commercial initiatives of the 21st century. The resurrection of the historical Silk Road in a modern sense is important not just for Beijing, but the rest of the world as well. As a result of its ever-growing scope, Belt and Road Initiative as one of the biggest indicators of globalization in not just economics but also geographical, social and cultural, aims to create bridges of cooperation. 

With this background in mind, former ambassador Aydın Nurhan offers their insight for a close look at the Belt and Road Initiative. 

1. The Belt and Road Initiative is accepted to be a long-term inter-continental undertaking that aims to expedite the economic integration of countries located in the Historical Silk Road. According to many experts this initiative is the most critical commercial integration move of the 21st century.  How do you evaluate the Belt and Road Initiative?

As we know, the trade route between Istanbul and Beijing took a significant hit after the Age of Discovery. The losers in this scenario were the Ottoman Empire with China and the nations in between. As the longer extension of this trade route Italian Mediterranean states were also harmed in the process. Shortly, the Istanbul-Beijing chain of the global economy was broken. 

Capitalism foresees free trade without any obstacles. It requires expansion in a global scale. If it does not, it implodes. China, as a country that adopted capitalism later than its counterparts, desires to create free trade routes that capitalism brings. As the Western part of the broken Silk Road, Turkey shares the same destiny and aspiration of fixing this broken chain. Therefore, as long as the Istanbul-Beijing link is not connected, a crucial chain in global cooperation will remain broken. 

2. Since its announcement in 2013 China has signed Belt and Road Memorandum of Understanding with 150 country and 32 international organization. While it is a global initiative, it can be seen that emerging markets such as Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and Middle East are given priority. When evaluated from this perspective what has been and will be the effects of the Belt and Road Initiative in China’s relationship with developing countries? 

China and Türkiye are the emerging powers of the 21st century. Emerging powers desire peace and stability. While their production and export capabilities are increasing, they want a liberal global order without obstacles. In this context Africa, Asia and Latin America are virgin grounds that need investment. The rising Türkiye with an export economy nearing $500 billion and a tourism plan that aims to attract 60 million tourists, just like China, is in favor of strong cooperations. 

3. In 2023 the Belt and Road Initiative will be celebrating its 10th year. Considering the current global economic situation, what would be your predictions in terms of the Belt and Road Initiative’s role within the global economy?

The Belt and Road Initiative has disturbed many Western nations, starting with the United States. West is in a situation where they cannot compete with China. For this reason, they are becoming more reactionary and protectionist in their free trade initiatives. However, if every nation follows the trend of preferring domestic products, world would enter a dark economy tunnel. Fighting against this risk, the Belt and Road Initiative is a beneficial initiative for the humanity, and of course, Türkiye. 

Former Ambassador Aydın Nurhan

Born in Türkiye, 1949, Ambassador Nurhan is a graduate of the Ankara University Law School. Before he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he practiced law as a lawyer. Nurhan has worked as the consulate general for Nakhchivan, Bregenz and Melbourne. Later, he was appointed to Togo and Benin as accredited ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Republic of Türkiye after which he has worked as the Afghanistan permanent representative for Islamic Cooperation Organization. Apart from his diplomatic career, Nurhan is a columnist, radio show producer and host; and a university lecturer with an honorary doctorate. With his main interest, globalization, Nurhan contributes to ANKASAM’s work as the president’s head counselor. He is married with two kids.



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