South Korea right to view China as ‘inseparable partner’: China Daily editorial

The paper says it would serve the interests of both nations, which just marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties last year, if they could properly manage their differences.



June 27, 2023

BEIJING – Amid the worsening bilateral relations, Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Park Jin’s latest remarks that his country will continue to “strengthen strategic dialogue with China” certainly comes as a relief for anyone who worries about the direction Sino-ROK ties seem to be heading in.

The ROK government has no reason to hate China and has no will to do so, Yonhap News Agency cited Park as saying. Park added that Seoul’s baseline stance is to build “a healthy and mature” relationship with Beijing based on mutual respect and benefits for both, according to the report.

China-ROK relations have been experiencing difficulties in recent years, initially as a result of the decision by Seoul to deploy the United States’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system in the country. Relations have deteriorated further after the Yoon Suk-yeol administration took office last year.

With Seoul aligning itself with the Joe Biden administration’s “Indo-Pacific” strategy, Seoul and Beijing have often been at loggerheads with each other on issues that the US is employing to try and keep Beijing on the back foot.

Beijing lodged “solemn representations” with the ROK government in April in response to the ROK leader’s remarks that the Taiwan question is not just an issue between the Chinese mainland and the island, but a global matter like the Korean Peninsula issue, calling them “erroneous” and “totally unacceptable”. The ROK Foreign Ministry summoned Chinese ambassador to Seoul Xing Haiming to issue a protest early this month after he, in comments to an opposition politician, warned the ROK against making a “wrong bet” when it came to Sino-US rivalry and urged it to stop “decoupling” from China.

The rising tensions in bilateral ties risk causing irreparable damage to the strategic partnership that the two sides have worked so hard to build over the years.

It would serve the interests of both China and the ROK, which just marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties last year, if they could properly manage their differences.

Thanks to their pragmatic cooperation featuring equality and mutual benefit over the past three decades, the two countries have achieved common development and prosperity. China remains the ROK’s top export destination and trade partner, accounting for one-fourth of all ROK trade in 2021. Bilateral trade reached a record $362.35 billion that year, which was higher than the ROK’s trade with the US, Japan and Europe combined.

The two countries have also agreed to hold negotiations on a follow-up to the China-ROK Free Trade Agreement that will cover services and investment, and work together to keep global industry and supply chains stable. It would be a boon for the two countries and the region if they could indeed work together as “inseparable partners”.

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