Ankara Municipality begins city works in front of Chinese embassy days after Uyghur row

The Ankara Municipality launched an excavation in front of the Chinese embassy on April 7 in an attempt to detect water fraud. The city work comes days after the Chinese embassy sent a message to Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş that was widely interpreted as a threat.

Duvar English

The Ankara Municipality started an excavation in front of the Chinese embassy as part of a citywide attempt to detect water fraud on April 7, days after the embassy sent a message to Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş that was interpreted widely as a threat. 

The embassy told Yavaş on April 6 that they reserved the "right to respond proportionately" to anyone who threatened their sovereignty after the mayor released a commemorative message about the death of Uyghurs at the hand of the Chinese military in Baren Township in 1990.

The Ankara Municipality launched the excavation project in front of the embassy on April 7 as squads from the Ankara Water and Sewage Administration (ASKİ) started drilling in search of illegal water infrastructure. 

"We thank everyone for their understanding about the discomfort caused by the work we started in front of the Chinese embassy in an attempt to detect fraud that Ankara residents are paying for in this time when our water resources are fast shrinking," ASKİ Assistant Director Cüneyt Öztürk said in a tweet. 

The Uyghur community in Turkey presses Ankara to condemn Beijing's systematic persecution, with the Turkish government remaining reluctant to comment on the issue.

The other politician besides the mayor that the embassy responded to, Good Party (İYİ) leader Meral Akşener also responded to the embassy's message in a witty manner, sharing a comic of herself.

"Stop talking nonsense and stop the massacre on Uyghurs," Akşener is seen saying in the comic, while slapping a character depicting the embassy, with the embassy's "threat" filling in the bubble. 

Financial Times: Turkey scolded Chinese Ambassador

Ankara summoned the Chinese Ambassador shortly after the tweet from the Chinese embassy in response to the mayor, and reportedly "scolded" the official, the daily Financial Times reported on April 8. 

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said that “some people in Turkey made wrong remarks on Twitter that brazenly encouraged terrorists” and “the response of China’s embassy in Turkey was absolutely appropriate” on April 7. 

Meanwhile, Turkey maintained its position behind the mayor, the Financial Times reported, although "economic pragmatism and other factors limit Turkey’s ability to manoeuvre," Marmara University's Çağdaş Üngör told the Financial Times. 

Turkey's Uyghur community's anxiety has been compounded by an extradition treaty with China that is being considered for ratification by the Turkish parliament, as well as Turkey’s dependence for almost all its coronavirus vaccine supplies on Sinovac.