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Leaders aim for higher level Sino-ROK ties

By CAO DESHENG in Beijing and YANG HAN in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-11 07:40

Vice-President Wang Qishan (L) shakes hand with the ROK's new President Yoon Sukyeol in Seoul on May 10, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

After Yoon's inauguration, wishes expressed for even deeper partnership

China and the Republic of Korea have vowed to further advance their strategic cooperative partnership, and to strengthen their communication and coordination on the Korean Peninsula issue in order to denuclearize the peninsula and promote its lasting peace and prosperity.

Vice-President Wang Qishan and the ROK's new President Yoon Sukyeol made the pledge on Tuesday during a meeting in Seoul. They agreed that the two countries would maintain close strategic communication and high-level exchanges and enhance bilateral pragmatic cooperation in various fields to bring the countries' ties to a higher level.

Wang was visiting the ROK as President Xi Jinping's special representative to attend Yoon's presidential inauguration ceremony at the invitation of the ROK government. Xi had a telephone conversation with Yoon in March after the latter won the presidential election, and they vowed to work together to forge a closer and more productive partnership between Beijing and Seoul.

During his meeting with Yoon, Wang extended Xi's cordial greetings and best wishes to him, saying that since they established diplomatic relations 30 years ago, China and the ROK have achieved rapid development in their ties with increasing shared interests.

Against the backdrop of the evolution of the international landscape and the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that it has become more important to strengthen China-ROK cooperation for the benefit of both sides, the region and the world at large.

While calling for strengthening strategic communication and high-level exchanges, Wang stressed the need for both countries to deepen pragmatic cooperation and strengthen their synergies in development strategies with an emphasis on key fields and the third-party market cooperation to improve the quality and level of the countries' collaborations.

He underlined the importance of cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and said the two countries should take this year's 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties as an opportunity to promote friendship between the two peoples in order to inject more positive energy into the development of their relations.

Wang called for strengthened communication and coordination between China and the ROK on international and regional affairs, and urged them to work together to uphold multilateralism and the free-trade system to bolster regional and global development and prosperity.

On the Korean Peninsula issue, Wang said China sincerely hopes that both sides of the Korean Peninsula can improve their relations and advance reconciliation and cooperation. China stands ready to intensify communication with the ROK to realize a nuclear-free peninsula and promote its long-lasting peace, he added.

Yoon asked Wang to convey his sincere thanks and greetings to President Xi, and said that over the past three decades, ROK-China relations have developed rapidly and robustly. He noted that bilateral trade has reached a new high despite the pandemic.

Mutual respect

The ROK government is willing to take the 30th anniversary as an opportunity to maintain high-level strategic communications and interactions at various levels between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect, he said.

The ROK wants to further strengthen bilateral exchanges and pragmatic cooperation with China in various fields, boost the friendship between the two peoples and open up a new era for ROK-China relations, Yoon added.

Around 40,000 people attended Yoon's inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly plaza in Seoul, including about 300 foreign dignitaries. Wang is the highest-ranking Chinese official ever to attend a ROK president's inauguration. He is also the highest-ranking Chinese official to pay a visit abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his inauguration speech for a five-year term, Yoon vowed to leave the door open for the peaceful resolution of the Korean Peninsula's nuclear issue with dialogue with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Lee Jung-tae, a professor in the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Kyungpook National University in the ROK, told China Daily: "The key point of Yoon's speech is a proposal for China, Japan and other regional countries to unite and cooperate freely to overcome difficulties."

Lee said he is optimistic about the future of ROK-China relations after Yoon's inauguration because the two countries need to cooperate to defeat COVID-19, a common enemy, while promoting economic recovery and supporting people's livelihoods.

The attendance by China's vice-president at the ceremony is a meaningful sign that China wants to improve relations with the ROK and also reflects the expectation of Yoon's government, Lee said.

On Monday, Wang also met with the ROK's outgoing president, Moon Jae-in, in Seoul. Moon said that over the past five years, ROK-China relations have achieved development.

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