Lina Wang is a PhD student at Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. Her research interest in ethnic policy and Sino-Turkish relations stems from studies at the “Cradle of China’s diplomats”. She received her Bachelor’s in English and International Studies from China Foreign Affairs University and Master’s in European Studies from University of Macao. Prior to joining the Jackson School, she had learned Turkish language at Istanbul University Language Center for two years. This immersion period in Turkey also inspired her interest in how the Uyghur diaspora communities influence Sino-Turkish relations.
“Uyghur Diaspora and Sino-Turkish Relations”
The Uyghur people are Sunni Muslims of Turkic origin living in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region. According to scholars’ estimation, there are almost six percent of Uyghur people living outside of China. Even though China and Turkey are geographically distant from each other, Uyghur diaspora communities in Turkey maintain a high level involvement in both countries. From 1950s to the 1980s, key Uyghur diaspora leaders and organizations were based in Turkey. The most recent anti-China demonstration by Uyghur people in Istanbul happened in July 2015 just before Turkish President Erdogan’s China visit.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the role of Uyghur diaspora in Turkey’s foreign policies towards China. What interests does Uyghur diaspora have in the foreign policies of Turkey? How do Uyghur diaspora communities influence the foreign policies of Turkey vis-à-vis China? This paper traces the historical process of Uyghur migration to Turkey since 1950s. By content analysis of Mehmet Emin Buğra and İsa Yusuf Alptekin’s books, Buğra’s Pan-Turk journal Türkistan Sesi, Uyghur organizations’ quarterly Turkish report Doğu Türkistan’ın Sesi and quarterly magazine Gökbayrak, this study aims to examine how Uyghur diaspora made use of pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism ideologies in Turkey to promote the Uyghur cause and influence Sino-Turkish relations. The research results show that Uyghur long-distance nationalism plays an important role in the bilateral relations between China and Turkey since 1970s.