Influence of CCP on Uyghur Organizations in Turkey: Unravelling the Intricate Web


The activities of certain Uyghur organizations in Turkey have come under scrutiny due to their alleged connection with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). These organizations have been accused of promoting CCP propaganda and furthering the party’s agenda.

At the forefront of this narrative is the UYSİD (the Uyghur Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Association), founded in 2010 with the ostensible aim of fostering Uyghur business exchange between Turkey and China. However, its activities extend beyond business, encompassing the realms of politics, civil society, and cultural exchange. Sabir Boghda, a PRC-born Uyghur and the chairman of UYSİD, has played a pivotal role in promoting CCP’s interests in Turkey. Boghda’s involvement in CCP’s united front work, including prestigious appointments and organizing events, highlights his significance in the party’s agenda. In 2015, he attended the annual session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing as an overseas delegate. He has been appointed by CCP in various united front organisations as an associate/member. This includes the China Overseas Exchange Association (COEA), the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese (ACFROC) and China Overseas Friendship Association (COFA).

Boghda’s role as a conduit for CCP propaganda aimed at Turkish audiences is particularly concerning. Through media engagements, such as interviews and publications, he has propagated the narrative of Xinjiang’s economic potential and Turko-Chinese cooperation. Notably, these narratives conveniently omit the sensitive issue of the Uyghur plight in Xinjiang and the negative impact on Turko-Chinese relations. Boghda’s affiliations with media outlets and his close ties with the PRC Consulate in Istanbul raise questions about the authenticity and objectivity of his statements.

Turkey’s shifting stance on China’s treatment of Uyghurs adds another layer of complexity. While President Recep Tayyip Erdogan initially labelled it a ‘genocide’ following the 2009 Ürümqi riots, political and economic factors seem to have influenced his subsequent retreat from such strong rhetoric. As Turkey grows economically dependent on China, Erdogan’s statements regarding Xinjiang have become more conciliatory, highlighting the delicate balance between economic interests and human rights concerns.

Another significant figure within UYSİD is Volkan Öztürk, who has defended the CCP’s policies in Xinjiang. Öztürk’s interactions with united front officials and his joint business ventures with Boghda in Xinjiang raise questions about the extent of his alignment with CCP’s agenda. The Xinjiang Aolaite Import and Export Trading Co. Ltd, owned by Boghda and Öztürk, and their involvement in promoting Turkish goods and trade further deepen the intertwining of business interests and political influence.

Amidst these allegations, there have been criticisms of UYSİD and its members’ alignment with the CCP’s ethnic policies. Sabir Boghda’s defense of the CCP’s narrative, ignoring the voices of pro-Xinjiang independence elements, has drawn backlash and social media protests. However, it appears that such criticisms have not deterred Boghda and his associates from continuing to engage with the CCP and promote its agenda.

The activities of Uyghur organizations in Turkey, particularly UYSİD, reveal a complex web of influence orchestrated by the CCP. Through key figures like Sabir Boghda and Volkan Öztürk, the CCP has managed to co-opt business networks, propagate its narrative, and maintain control over the Uyghur diaspora in Turkey. The interplay between economic interests, political alignments, and human rights concerns adds layers of nuance to the Uyghur issue in Turkey. As the world grapples with how to address the plight of the Uyghurs and fight for their rights, understanding these intricate dynamics becomes crucial in formulating an effective response.

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