US voices concern over Turkey-China missile deal
Chinese officials tell Washington not to politicize the development
By Ryan Moore, Staff Writer
The $3.4 billion Turkish-Chinese missile deal will produce a long-range of air and missile defence systems. The deal has enticed speculation in Washington, who considers Turkey an ally in the Middle East. According to Turkey, the deal is not yet final.
Wind turbulence in the Middle East, along with war in neighbouring Syria, has motivated Turkey to intensify its air defence and develop a stronger domestic defence industry.
The foreign ministry of China dismissed Washington’s concerns over these developments, stating that the US is, “needlessly politicizing a commercial deal.”
The US has initiated “expert discussions” with Turkey regarding this development.
“We are very concerned about the prospective deal with the sanctioned Chinese firm,” Turkey’s US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone told Reuters. “Yes, this is a commercial decision, it is Turkey’s sovereign right, but we are concerned about what it means for allied air defense.”
Turkey is entitled to its own decision after examining the facts, according to Ricciardone. He added that the US is seriously concerned about what this means for allied missile and air defenses for them and for Turkey if the defense system is not compatible with NATO systems.
“We have really just begun expert discussions with the government of Turkey,” Ricciardone told reporters. “We will keep that very respectful. This will be done in official channels as between allies and friends.”
US sanctions were enforced on the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
Turkey (NATO military alliance member) chose the FD-2000 missile defense system from CPMIEC, over competing systems from Russia, the US and Europe.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated that Turkey buying a system that is potentially non-compatible with other NATO members undermines the 28-nation alliance agreement.
Turkish officials, however, clearly state that these developments are not politically motivated. China was able to place most of the production in Turkey and meet price demands.
“We are taking a step towards the future and our personnel will be involved in all of the laboratory work,” said Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. “If NATO is so sensitive on this subject, many countries which are currently NATO members still have Russian weapons in their inventories.”
Demand for Chinese military exports has been increasing. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) now ranks China as the world’s fifth largest arms supplier, now surpassing UK exports.
Reports on China’s state-run military production believe a sale of the missile defense system to Turkey would open the gate to more high-tech orders from other markets.
Ryan Moore is an Algonquin College graduate, currently studying at York University.