The Chinese immigration authorities are reportedly denying Germans visas to visit China because they have Turkish-sounding names; the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce suspects that Turkey’s support for Uyghurs in China is behind the move, Wirtschaftswoche reports.
The Chinese immigration authorities appear to be discriminating against Germans with Turkish-sounding names and those who have spent a long time in Turkey, according to the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK).
The DIHK has indications “that the Chinese consulate is not issuing visas to German businesspeople with Turkish-sounding names,” the organization’s foreign trade chief Volker Treier told the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche on Friday.
Treier warned that the issue could affect trade relations between China and Germany. In 2016, trade turnover between the two countries was €169.9 billion ($198.2 billion), making China Germany’s biggest trade partner, ahead of France.
Over 5,000 German businesses are present in China, compared with 900 Chinese businesses in Germany. German businesses have around €70 billion ($82 billion) in Chinese investments and employ around one million local employees.
According to Wirtschaftswoche, the Chinese consulate in Germany is rejecting visa applications from businesspeople with Turkish-sounding names and prospective tourists who have spent long periods of time in Turkey.
One reason is Germany’s policy with regard to the waves of migrants who have arrived in Germany from the Middle East since 2015. The Chinese government believes Germany did not exert sufficient control over its borders during the high point of the migrant crisis in 2015, and “apparently fears that there could be terrorists or Turkish activists among visa applicants.”
According to the report, the DIHK suspects that the main reason for the visa difficulty is “tense relations between China and Turkey” over the Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim ethnic group living predominantly in Eastern and Central Asia. The majority of Uyghurs, over ten million, live in the autonomous Xinjiang province in western China.
China has accused Uyghur activists of religious extremism and terrorism, and implemented an anti-terror crackdown. Turkey has accused Beijing of persecuting Uyghurs and offered to host Uyghur refugees from China.
In spite of these differences, in August Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu met to agree on enhanced security cooperation and anti-terrorism measures. At a joint press conference, Wang said that Cavusoglu had given an assurance that Ankara “would not permit any anti-China activities” in the country.