Turkey is extremely confident that China will defeat the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) soon and bilateral cooperation “is continuing unabated,” managing director of Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund (TVF) has said.

“China is a very valuable trade partner and will remain so after the Chinese authorities control and eradicate this virus. We are extremely confident that China will defeat this virus soon,” Zafer Sonmez, managing director of the TVF told on Saturday.

Turkey’s economic and trade relations with China will remain strong with a long-term vision despite the outbreak of COVID-19, said the head of one of Turkey’s major state financial institutions based in Istanbul, the nation’s economic centre.

“Beyond trade and economy, there is a humanitarian relationship between Turkey and China and we stand by our Chinese brothers in these difficult times. We stand ready to assist them in every possible way we can,” he said.

Sonmez said his institution is in close contact with Chinese economic and trade authorities, noting this will be maintained during this outbreak and beyond.

“Our cooperation with China is continuing unabated. This virus outbreak is a temporary problem. It will be defeated because China is strong, and our country which is a friend in need of China, wants more trade and investment-related cooperation with China in the future,” he said.

Sonmez said that the outbreak “is an emergency like an outbreak that occurs around the world, but our ties with China are deep and long-standing.”

“This situation is not going to stop or slow down bilateral relations, on the contrary, we see this outbreak as an opportunity to further expand our cooperation,” he added.

Turkey-China trade volume increased to 21.6 billion dollars in 2018. China is currently Turkey’s second-biggest trading partner after Russia.

Ankara and Beijing have also expressed their desire to expand their cooperation under the China-proposed Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), which is also at the core of their growing economic partnership.

“The BRI is a landmark project and we value it very much, there is a lot of new projects and investment schemes which are stemming from it, and our government has said that from the outset it is willing to contribute to it as much as it can,” Sonmez noted.

“After this epidemic is resolved, we will continue to have strong business cooperation with China because our relationship is not temporary, it is built on a long-term vision laid out by our governments,” he said.

Established in 2016, the TVF holds all or part of the shares of several major Turkish companies worth billions of U.S. dollars, including flag-carrier Turkish Airlines, telecommunications giant Turk Telekom, state lenders Turkiye Halk Bankasi and Ziraat Bankasi, Oil Company Turkish Petroleum and the stock market Borsa Istanbul.