Seoul’s top diplomat heads to China amid mounting concerns

Posted on : 2022-08-08 17:12 KST Modified on : 2022-08-08 17:12 KST
Park Jin’s three-day trip to China will mark the first time a member of the current administration officially visits China
South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin (right) speaks with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left), during a gathering of top diplomats from G20 nations held in Bali, Indonesia, on July 7. (courtesy MOFA)
South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin (right) speaks with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left), during a gathering of top diplomats from G20 nations held in Bali, Indonesia, on July 7. (courtesy MOFA)

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin will be visiting Qingdao, China, for three days starting Monday in order to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. How Park will try to resolve pending issues between South Korea and China is drawing interest, as he is the first high-ranking official of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration to be visiting China.

Park will be meeting Wang for the third time since Yoon’s term as president began. After his first virtual meeting with Wang on May 16, which served as an introductory meeting between the two, Park laid the groundwork for a more full-fledged meeting with Wang in Bali, Indonesia, where a gathering of the top diplomats from G20 countries took place on July 7.

In their meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Park and Wang are expected to exchange more in-depth opinions about pending issues. Observers project that pending international issues that have been building will be discussed broadly, starting from issues concerning the Korean Peninsula such as North Korea’s missiles and nuclear program; to pending issues related to bilateral relations between South Korea and China, which marks its 30th anniversary on Aug. 24; pending issues related to Northeast Asia, such as those relating to Taiwan and the South China Sea; as well as climate change and supply chain reorganization.

Whether South Korea will be participating in Chip 4, a US-led semiconductor supply chain partnership, will be a major point of contention at the meeting amidst the intensifying strategic competition between the US and China. So far, China has been on full alert when it comes to the issue of the US trying to reshuffle supply chains in order to exclude China, including that for semiconductors. At the same time, China has been pressuring South Korea as well, advising that the country make a judgment according to its national interest.

Whether South Korea will maintain its “three noes” policy regarding the THAAD anti-missile system, which China has been emphasizing through its official news agencies since mid-July, will probably be a major point of contention as well from the standpoint of security policies.

Regarding North Korea’s missiles and nuclear program, Park is expected to present the blueprint of the Yoon administration’s North Korea policy and ask for China’s cooperation. Discussions about regional pending issues including those along the Taiwan Strait, tensions surrounding which have escalated following China’s heightened military action triggered by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan from Tuesday to Wednesday, seem inevitable as well.

By Jung In-hwan, staff reporter

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