BEIJING/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - China has warned its citizens traveling in Turkey to be careful of anti-Beijing protests, saying some Chinese tourists have recently been “attacked and disturbed”.
The notice, posted on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website on Sunday, said there had been “multiple” demonstrations in Turkey targeting the Chinese government.
Relations between Turkey and China have been strained recently over the treatment of Muslim Uighur people in China’s far western region of Xinjiang, who have reportedly had been banned from worship and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
China’s treatment of the Uighurs is an important issue for many Turks, who see themselves as sharing a common cultural and religious background. Turkey vowed on Friday to keep its doors open to ethnic Uighurs fleeing persecution.
“Absolutely do not get close to or film the protests, and minimize to the greatest extent outside activities on one’s own,” the Chinese notice said.
Turkish daily Hurriyet reported a small group of people last week attacked a Chinese restaurant in Istanbul’s touristy Tophane district, smashing windows.
On Sunday in Istanbul, several hundred protesters marched towards the Chinese consulate carrying flags and chanting anti-China slogans outside the building, located towards the end of a leafy uphill road from the coast of the Bosphorus strait.
Earlier in the day, some of the protesters had burned a Chinese flag.
“They (the Uighurs) are our brothers and are being persecuted for their faith. They did nothing wrong, their only fault is to be Muslim,” said 17-year old Muhammet Gokce who was wearing a blue head band with the words “East Turkestan you are not alone”.
“Turkey should embrace its brothers, should save them from the brutal hands of communist China.”
Reporting by Adam Rose and Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by Kim Coghill and Mark Potter