Top envoys from Seoul, Beijing work on Xi visit to Korea
Foreign Minister Park Jin and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a virtual summit on Monday, and agreed to work closely together on a visit by President Xi Jinping to Korea.
Citing a meeting betwen Xi and President Yoon Suk-yeol in Indonesia last month, the two ministers agreed to “communicate closely” for further exchanges between the leaders, including a visit by Xi to Korea, said the Foreign Ministry in Seoul.
The last time Xi came to Seoul was in July 2014.
The two also spoke of boosting trade and cooperation on North Korea.
Park asked for China’s support to encourage North Korea to “refrain from further provocations” and to choose dialogue for denuclearization, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Wang was quoted by the ministry to have said that Beijing would play a constructive role.
The last time the two envoys met was in August, when Park visited Qingdao, Shandong Province. At that time, they discussed U.S.-China rivalry in the context of a proposal Washington had made to Seoul for closer cooperation on semiconductors.
Other testy issues between the two countries were broached at the time, such as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad), a U.S. missile defense system deployed in Korea in 2017. Beijing, calling the system an American attempt to spy on China, levied economic sanctions on Korea following the deployment.
The meeting came a month after the first summit between Yoon and Xi in Indonesia, in which Yoon asked for a more “constructive role” from Beijing on dealing with military provocations by North Korea.
Xi proposed resuming a so-called Track 1.5 dialogue mechanism to strengthen communication and build political trust between Seoul and Beijing.
That kind of arrangement, a private-public consultative meeting, is not new between the two countries.
After Xi floated the same idea on a visit to Korea in July 2014, the last time he visited the country, the Korean and Chinese foreign ministries hosted a meeting between senior government officials and private experts on July 2, 2015.
Another meeting of the kind was hosted in October 2019.
The foreign ministerial meeting on Monday followed a virtual business forum between Beijing and Seoul, attended by top executives and senior-ranking government officials, who called for closer trade relations between the two countries.
Hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the forum was joined by former Minister of Economy and Finance Yoo Il-ho and Korean executives including Chairman Chey Taewon of SK Group, who also chairs the KCCI, and Park Seung-hee, president and head of corporate relations at Samsung Electronics.
“New trade barriers such as protection of high-tech industries, international disputes, and climate change risks are new challenges for both countries,” Yoo said at the forum. “In the past, Korea and China have contributed to each other’s economies through quantitative growth, but in the future, we will need qualitative growth based on good use of our comparative advantages.”
Former Prime Minister of China Li Keqiang gave congratulatory remarks in a pre-recorded message.
Joining the forum virtually from Beijing were Bi Jinquan and Zhang Xiaoqiang, executive vice chairmen of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, and business executives including Chen Zhaoxiong, head of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation.
Participants in the forum urged the speeding up of negotiations for additional agreements in conjunction with the China-Korea free trade agreement, in effect since 2015.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [email@example.com]