S. Korea asks China for cooperation on inter-Korean relations

Posted on : 2021-09-16 17:24 KST Modified on : 2021-09-16 17:24 KST
In a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China intends on playing a constructive role with regard to inter-Korean relations going forward
President Moon Jae-in meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday at the Blue House. (provided by the Blue House)
President Moon Jae-in meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday at the Blue House. (provided by the Blue House)

While meeting at the Blue House with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he looked forward to next year’s Beijing Winter Olympics becoming “another turning point in improving relations with North Korea” after the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018.

Moon also shared his hope that the event will “contribute to peace in Northeast Asia and in the world.”

During his meeting with Wang that day, Moon said he hoped for “Beijing 2022 bringing a successful conclusion to the Northeast Asian ‘three-country Olympics relay’ that began in Pyeongchang in 2018,” the Blue House reported.

With his remarks, Moon signaled his commitment to using next February’s Beijing Winter Olympics as an opportunity to resume inter-Korean dialogue.

In response, Wang was quoted as saying he would “work to ensure that the Beijing Olympics is an occasion for improving inter-Korean relations,” adding that “historic things can be achieved in a single day as long as there is a proactive attitude and political will.”

North Korea is unable to take part in the Beijing Olympics at the national level. On Sept. 8, the International Olympic Committee suspended the North Korean Olympic Committee’s eligibility through 2022 due to its nonparticipation in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Moon requested China’s cooperation toward improving inter-Korean relations.

“South Korea and the US have recently been making ongoing efforts to resume dialogue, but while we have been concretely discussing various measures for North Korean involvement such as humanitarian aid, North Korea has yet to respond favorably,” he was quoted as saying by Blue House spokesperson Park Kyung-mee.

In his response, Wang was reported as saying, “As China’s position is one of always supporting the Korean Peninsula’s denuclearization and progress and development in inter-Korean relations, we intend to continue playing a constructive role going forward.”

Moon and Wang both agreed on the need to step up South Korea-China relations as they mark the 30th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship next year.

Moon was quoted as saying, “With the 30th anniversary of South Korea-China diplomatic relations coming next year, it is time for us to work together to open up a more mature future for South Korea-China relations.”

In response, Wang reportedly quoted an idiom by Confucius, saying, “30 years old and therefore independent.”

“We now need to review our experiences and plan well for the development of our relationship over the next 30 years,” he was quoted as saying.

Wang also met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong ahead of his meeting with Moon.

Commenting on the possibility of Chinese President Xi Jinping visiting South Korea before the end of the year, he signaled that it was unlikely to happen.

“President Xi greatly values his visit to South Korea,” he said, adding that “we will be able to rest easy and engage in senior-level communications once the COVID-19 situation has completely stabilized.”

Xi has not visited South Korea since Moon took office in 2017.

By Lee Wan, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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