6 April 2010

Turkey – China: Towards onto an Energy Partnership - Abdülkadir Emin Önen

An energy partnership agreement signed between Turkey and China while the Turkish President Abdullah Gül’s visit to China. A new era has been started between Turkey – China relationship with the signing of this agreement which can be seen in the analysis of the agreement below.

Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Energy Sector which was signed between Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Energy and the National Energy Administration of the People’s Republic of China is primarily a cooperation memorandum. Cooperation areas and route map of Turkey – China partnership had been decided. According to the memorandum:

Proposed Cooperation Areas

1. Renewable Energy
2. Energy conservation and energy productivity
3. Rehabilitation of transformer substations and hydroelectric power plants jointly
4. Manufacturing electricity generation systems for the utilization of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, small water sources etc.
5. Hydrocarbon exploration and production
6. Mining Technologies
7. Boron Technologies
8. Production of solar energy equipment
9. Thermal power ( coal, oil and natural gas as power)
10. Hydroelectric Power Plants
11. Nuclear Energy

This memorandum of understanding consists of 6 articles and it bases on the parties’ agreement to encourage their enterprises to discuss possibilities for bilateral and mutually beneficial cooperation in the energy sector in line with applicable laws and regulations of both countries. Memorandum of Understanding has a constructive property.

Importance of the Memorandum of Understanding

MoU is important edge point for Turkish Foreign Policy and Turkey’s Asian Policy since the year 2003 but firstly it is important for bilateral relations of Turkey and China. Turkey formulated a new strategy towards Asia which is based on a economy – energy survey during the Justice and Development Party Government. Trade volume between Turkey and Asian Countries increased by 25% -30% between 2003 - 2009, this is a clear success of the new strategy of Turkey. Also Turkey’s interest is so much increased towards the Asia according to the Turkish Government visits to Asia. These visits do not only arranged for strengthen the diplomatic relations, they also have concrete results such as signing of Memorandum of Understanding. This MoU was signed during the President Abdullah Gül’s visit to China at 23-29 June. This was the first presidential visit to China after the Demirel’s visit in 1995.

Important points come forward when interpreting the Turkey’s Energy Policy during Justice and Development Party Government. It should be underlined that Turkey is no more developing strategies on basis the of being an energy bridge but Turkey focuses on becoming an energy corridor and being a thermal country. Turkey is not only concentrating on becoming an energy corridor on east-west direction, Turkey also developing strategies to become a multidirectional energy corridor which includes north – south direction just like general Foreign Policy Strategy of Turkey. Turkey aims to become a global actor on energy with taking parts at the regional and global energy projects.

Turkey – China Relations

To understand the China’s importance for Turkey, it should be stated that China is the biggest trade partner of Turkey in the Far East and China is the 3rd country within the Turkey’s import ranking. Trade volume between Turkey and China is increased by 40% in 2008 in spite of the global financial crisis. In 2002, Turkey’s trade volume with China was $ 1.4 billion dollars, this trade volume is increased by 7-8 times and it is $ 14-15 billion dollars today. Briefly this MoU is signed in accordance with the developing economic relations between Turkey and China.

This MoU is expected to strengthen the development and diversification of Turkey – China relations on a collaboration perspective. This collaboration memorandum will be a step on bearing Turkey – China relationship to a strategic level in the future. Turkey – Russia relations is a good example for proving the fact that developing energy-trade relation has a significantly positive affect on the development of political relations. China which has veto power in UN Security Council, has a potential for being a superpower in the near future. Cooperation between Turkey and China on politics become a stronger possibility by the development of energy cooperation between Turkey and China.

On the other hand, China will invest to Turkey according to the MoU and these investments will help Turkey to meet the deficits of Turkey-China trade relation. According to the Chinese Perspective, energy cooperation with Turkey and designation of Turkey as a strategic base (after the Turkey President Gül’s signing of a agreement on establishing a investment base in Turkey with Chinese Huawi Company) will be an important boost for developing China’s Middle East Initiative. Turkey’s cooperation with world’s potential superpower China in Middle East is not only an issue of energy sector, it also provides important advantages in world politics for Turkey.


Energy Memorandum Article is a turning point for bilateral relations of Turkey and China in general and it is also a turning point for energy relations in private. Countries which can provide energy security will be the main actors of international politics according to the energy security aspect. This Memorandum is a milestone for providing Turkey’s energy security. China investment to energy sector of Turkey, is an important contribution to efforts on satisfying Turkey’s energy need and proving Turkey’s energy security. Chinese investment of renewable energy and nuclear energy will give the ability of multiplying energy sources for Turkey. Energy is becoming the most important cooperation issue between Turkey and China in this sense. Cooperation on producing energy with China is strategically beneficial for Turkey. Turkey – China energy cooperation is based on the strategy of bilateral cooperation and win – win approach. Benefits which will gained through energy cooperation in the future will give positive opportunities to both state and individuals.

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