August 21, 2015 12:11
President Park Geun-hye has decided to visit Beijing on Sept. 3 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday. She will be the first Korean president to attend World War II anniversary celebrations in China.
During her visit, Park is expected to meet with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. It will be their sixth summit. She has visited China every year since 2013.
However, it has not been decided whether Park will watch a massive military parade that is part of the celebrations, Cheong Wa Dae added.
Ju Chul-ki, the senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs, said, "An announcement will be made at a proper time." But Cheong Wa Dae seems to feel she should attend the parade as well. "The parade is scheduled at the end of the main celebrations," a Cheong Wa Dae official said. "If she leaves early, it could backfire, so she'll probably stay in her seat."
The U.S. is uncomfortable with Park's attendance because it sees China as a challenge to its military hegemony in the region. "The U.S. is our ally and China is an important partner. The decision was made after taking China's strategic and economic importance into consideration," the official said.
"China is not only our largest trading partner, but also a country that can exert a lot of leverage in finding solutions to North Korean issues, including the nuclear problem," another official said.
"We've given enough explanations to the U.S. in advance," another Cheong Wa Dae official in charge of foreign affairs said. "We've also made efforts to balance our relations with Washington."
China wants to show at home and abroad that it has become a military superpower. It has sent invitations to the leaders of about 50 countries that were allies against imperial Japan or which suffered from the Japanese aggression. But many Western countries have reportedly declined the invitation.
Only leaders from 20 to 30 countries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, are expected to attend. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is unlikely to be there, although he has been invited.
The U.S. and Europe will send high-level envoys instead.
The day after the celebrations Park travels to Shanghai to attend the reopening of the erstwhile building of the provisional Korean government set up there during the Japanese occupation. Beijing has borne the entire remodeling cost of W700 million (US$1=W1,191).
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