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S. Korea, China seek progress on denuclearization

April 3, 2021

South Korea and China have stressed the need to work together on achieving peace with North Korea. Beijing is keen to counter US efforts to strengthen regional allegiances.

South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi bump elbows prior to their meeting in Xiamen
The pair's meeting took place in Xiamen, a city close to the self-ruled island of TaiwanImage: Kim Yun-gu/AP Photo/picture alliance

South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong met his Chinese opposite number, Wang Yi, on Saturday, with both agreeing on the need to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Seoul is looking to bolster ties with China, its top trading partner, even as relations between Beijing and Washington remain strained.

Chung was meeting State Councillor Wang, the Chinese government's top diplomat, on the first visit to China of a South Korean foreign minister since 2017, in the city of Xiamen.

What did the pair say?

The South Korean foreign minister said it was important for China to play a part in peacemaking.

Chung said the South urged China "to continue serving a constructive role in the stable management of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and achieving substantial progress in the Korean Peninsula peace process.''

Chung also invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit South Korea once the pandemic was largely stabilized.

Wang said China and South Korea had agreed "to promote the process to politically resolve issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula," the Yonhap news agency reported.

Beijing wary of 'anti-China coalition'

The new US administration under President Joe Biden is stepping up efforts to bolster cooperation with its allies in the region, South Korea and Japan.

Washington is seeking to counter China's growing influence and the North Korean nuclear threat.

On Friday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in the latest top-level meetings between the US and the Asian countries in recent weeks.

The South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo speculated that China's decision to host Chung in Xiamen, close to the self-ruled island of Taiwan, was a message to Washington against the shoring up of any "anti-China coalition."

Washington is also seeking to reassure allies that its commitment to their security remains strong.

The US has maintained a military presence in South Korea since the Korean War in the 1950s — which has technically never ended.

Former President Donald Trump had increasingly demanded that Seoul shoulder a bigger burden of the cost.

rc/mm (AP, Reuters)

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