KOREA NEWS China's desire for co-development with S. Korea 'unwavering': top...

China’s desire for co-development with S. Korea ‘unwavering’: top envoy

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By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) — China’s top envoy to Seoul called Monday for improved relations between South Korea and China, saying that it is “not an option,” but “an essential issue” that must be solved.

Concerns have grown recently as China suspended customs procedures for shipments of urea to South Korea earlier this month. Although China cited its tight domestic supplies, its action raised concerns over a repeat of the urea supply crisis seen in 2021.

Urea is used to curb emissions in diesel cars and to make agricultural fertilizers, and China is the world’s largest producer of the material.

The latest move comes amid signs of bilateral relations cooling as conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has been bolstering ties with the United States in a departure from his liberal predecessor Moon Jae-in, who sought to enhance relations with China.

“Our win-win relations with South Korea remain unchanged and the desire for co-development is unwavering,” Chinese Ambassador Xing Haiming said at a forum co-hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Seoul and the Korea Press Foundation.

Xing enumerated the firm trade relations, revival of tourism and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meeting with Prime Minister Han Duck-soo during the Hangzhou Winter Olympics as evidence of sound bilateral relations.

Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming speaks during a forum co-hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Seoul and the Korea Press Foundation on Dec. 11, 2023. (Yonhap)

Underscoring the commitment of the two countries to developing the ties as a “strategic cooperative partnership,” Xing stressed the need to continue to further develop the bilateral relations.

“This (partnership commitment) has a very significant meaning,” Xing said. “This is not an option, but an essential issue to both countries that must be solved … We must recover our relations.”

Xing repeated this point again when asked by reporters about the “conditions” that China told South Korea were needed for a trilateral summit involving Japan.

“We reaffirmed the commitment during our foreign ministers’ talks, and that we will push for our bilateral relations within this platform, this is what is the most important,” Xing said, without elaborating.

During the foreign ministers’ talks among South Korea, China and Japan in Busan in November, Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi said that “conditions need to be met” to make the envisioned three-way summit happen, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

The talks among the foreign ministers of the three Northeast Asian neighbors came amid the growing optimism for the resumption of the long-stalled summit of the countries’ leaders.

The trilateral summit has not been held since the last one took place in China’s southwestern city of Chengdu in December 2019.

elly@yna.co.kr
(END)

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