Strain Mars 25th Anniversary of Korea-China Ties

  • By Lee Kil-seong, Kim Jin-myung, Kim Seung-bum

    August 25, 2017 11:10

    President Moon Jae-in and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages Thursday on the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

    Relations "have developed into a more mature relationship in various fields through communication, exchange and cooperation," the Foreign Ministry quoted Moon as saying. "The two countries should develop ties further to become strategic partners that contribute to development in Northeast Asia and global peace."

    Xi said that he considers ties with South Korea very important and that the two sides should "consolidate political trust, and reasonably resolve different opinions."

    It was a veiled reference to the deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the U.S. in southern Korea and the retaliatory Chinese boycott of Korean goods and services.

    Officials from Korea and China pose for a group photo at a reception to mark the 25th anniversary of bilateral ties in a hotel in Seoul on Thursday. /Newsis

    The two countries displayed starkly different attitudes toward the anniversary. The Foreign Ministry put considerable emphasis on the exchange of messages in an early-morning statement.

    But China's Foreign Ministry simply mentioned that the two leaders exchanged messages and added, "China's position on opposing the deployment of THAAD is quite clear-cut, firm and consistent and it remains unchanged."

    The state-run Global Times and English-language China Daily in editorials advised Seoul not to blame Beijing for the boycott and warned that bilateral relations will not improve until the THAAD controversy has been resolved.

    China believes that the THAAD's powerful radar could be used to spy on its military maneuvers.

    Experts say Korea and China have entered a new era in relations where the win-win strategy of the last 25 years marked by thriving trade has given way to conflicting interests as the two countries now compete in key industries.

    Yun Duk-min at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy said, "When the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1992, China found itself diplomatically isolated due to the Tiananmen Square incident and needed Korea from a diplomatic standpoint and wanted to learn from its economic model. But as its competitiveness improved, Korea's political importance declined and the two countries are now competing on the economic front."

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