Four Turkish marble exporters detained in China

Four Turkish businessmen were recently detained in China amidst tensions between Ankara and Beijing over China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims, the Epoch Times reported on Thursday.

The businessmen, who were attending a trade fair in the southern Chinese coastal city of Xiamen, were reportedly taken away on March 9 by local police from the hotel where they were staying. They were representing three Turkish marble exporters at the 19th China Xiamen International Stone Fair held from March 6 to 9, the Epoch Times said. 

The Chinese authorities did not give the names of the businessmen, but their initials are O.S., M.O., A., and Y.C. according to Hürriyet Daily News.

The three companies are accused of collaborating with some Chinese firms since 2016 to transfer cheap raw marble to China, resulting in total losses of 30 million yuans ($4.5 million) in taxes, Hürriyet Daily News said. 

The detentions came after Turkey harshly criticised the Chinese government for assimilating the Muslim Turkic minority. 

"It is no longer a secret that more than one million Uighur Turks, who are exposed to arbitrary arrests, are subjected to torture and political brainwashing in concentration centres and prisons," Hami Aksoy, the spokesman of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in February. 

Beijing denied Ankara’s claims and, in response, issued a travel advisory warning Chinese nationals against travelling to Turkey and temporarily shut down its consulate in Izmir, Turkey’s third largest province.  

Tang Jingyuan, a U.S.-based current affairs commentator, told the Epoch Times on March 12 that the arrests were a common tactic of the Chinese regime. “The Chinese Communist Party wants to put political pressure on Turkey by attacking its marble exporting business,” the Epoch Times quoted Tang as saying.