He toured the Urumqi international public bazaar, visited the Grand Mosque and talked to the residents, as well as paying a visit to a nearby industrial factory, TBEA, which manufactures power transmission and transformation equipment as well as wind turbines.
His visit to Xinjiang carries special importance because of the riots in the province in July 2009, just days after President Abdullah Gül's visit, with Uyghurs protesting what appeared to be the government's harsh policies. The disturbances left nearly 200 dead according to official Chinese data.
The growing relations between Ankara and Beijing in the last decade have softened Beijing’s security-oriented approach to solving problems faced by the Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in the province, while the Turkish government has taken a hard line against any separatist and terrorist activities aimed at establishing an independent “East Turkistan” in the province.
Turkey’s commitment to a “One China” policy and strong emphasis on the “territorial integrity and sovereignty of China” lifted relations to a “strategic partnership” in 2010. There have been high-level exchanges at the most senior leadership levels in recent years. The visit of Erdoğan is expected to further promote bilateral ties between Turkey and China.
Erdoğan visited the Turkish Industrial Zone on Sunday, an area set up in Urumqi for Turkish companies in order to improve trade relations between Turkey and Xinjiang province. Erdoğan met with Zhan Chunxian, the secretary of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Urumqi on Sunday. Erdoğan also met with Nur Bekri, the chairman of the autonomous region.
Erdoğan will be in Beijing on Monday to have official talks with Chinese officials after wrapping up talks in Xinjiang province.
His plane touched down in Urumqi, China on Sunday with a large business delegation looking for investment and business deals.
Erdoğan’s visit to China is Turkey’s first at the prime ministerial level in the last 27 years.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and a large delegation of businessmen, bureaucrats, academics and journalists will accompany Erdoğan during his four-day visit.
The two countries are expected to sign several agreements, including those on nuclear energy and coal, particularly focusing on cooperation over nuclear energy and its use for peaceful purposes. Preparing to leave for China on Saturday, Erdoğan said the crisis in Syria will be at the top of the agenda in his talks with Chinese officials.
The prime minister’s high-level talks with Chinese politicians will start on Monday. He will be received by his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao. The two leaders are set to have inter-delegational talks. Erdoğan is also scheduled to meet on Tuesday with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to be the next president. Shanghai, regarded as China’s economic capital, will be Erdoğan’s last stop on Tuesday, where he is expected to call on Chinese businessmen to invest in Turkey.