President Park Geun-hye will hold a summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday. (Yonhap News)
President Park Geun-hye will hold summit talks with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday in Beijing, with the agenda prioritizing North Korea’s nuclear problem, regional security and ways to enhance overall bilateral partnership.
During the four-day state visit to China, Park aims to see substantial improvement in the 21-year bilateral relations with the world’s second-biggest economy, Cheong Wa Dae said. This is Park’s second overseas trip since her inauguration following a U.S. visit in May.
“The visit is expected to become an opportunity in which the two countries can further the cooperation on North Korea policies including solving the North’s nuclear problem under the common purpose of bringing about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the peace and stability of this region,” senior presidential secretary Ju Chul-ki said.
Park and Xi are to adopt a joint communiqué on the future vision for the “strategic cooperative partnership” between the two countries.
It is to be watched whether the statement will become a turning point in the prolonged tension on the Korean Peninsula. Whether China will agree to elucidate a common intolerance to North Korea’s nuclear ambition in the statement remains to be seen.
Expectations are high for Beijing to show an advanced commitment during the summit, in line with the reinforced moves the country has recently been taking in condemning and sanctioning the reclusive regime for its provocations.
Diplomatic contact has been accelerating among the members of the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear problem, raising prospects for a resumption of the talks that have been suspended since 2007. But the U.S. and South Korea have also been dismissing North Korea’s latest gestures for dialogue, citing a lack of sincerity in its willingness to comply with the denuclearization process.
During their meeting, Park is expected to describe her trust-building process and the regional peace initiative to earn Xi’s support.
Enhancing bilateral ties is another pillar of the summit talks, as Park aims to boost cooperation with China on all fronts including security, trade, technology, culture and the global stage.
While the two countries have so far seen momentous developments in trade and personnel exchanges, their diplomatic cooperation had remained stuck between South Korea’s alliance with the U.S. and China’s support to North Korea.
Since last year’s election, Park has repeatedly emphasized the importance of China’s role in bringing peaceful unification of the two Koreas.
Park’s China visit will be minted with the slogan “Shim-shin-ji-ryeo,” meaning a journey to accumulate empathy and trust, Ju said.
“The slogan reflects President Park’s intention to solidify the bond of trust with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other members of the leadership in order to reinforce the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries,” he said.
Through the visit, Park and Xi are also expected to have a chance to enhance their personal bond. The two had conversed via telephone upon her inauguration in February. Park and Xi previously met in July 2005, as chairwoman of South Korea’s main opposition party and party secretary for the Zhejiang province, respectively.
The two leaders, both of whom took the helm this year, face daunting tasks domestically to uplift economic growth and balance out social benefits with similar political slogans of realizing “happiness” for Park and “dream” for Xi.
On Friday, Park will meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and with Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
Park will be accompanied by 71 business representatives, the largest presidential delegation to date.
The economic agenda includes the free trade agreement and how to move the negotiation forward, along with ways to cooperate on trade investment, science technology, environment finance, energy and welfare policies. Ju said a host of memorandums of understanding on economic cooperation will be signed on the sidelines of the trip.
Park will also visit Xian for the first time as South Korean president, in a move to highlight Seoul’s dedication to bolster economic and cultural ties.
Xian is an ancient city with over 3,000 years of history and is a base for Western development and one of three major education cities in China, Ju explained.
The city, into which many South Korean companies have already advanced, has great potential for cooperation to serve as a foothold of the businesses in reaching out to Central Europe and Asia, he said.
Around 10 government officials are accompanying Park, including Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jik, Ambassador to China Kwon Young-se and Cho Tae-yong, Seoul’s top nuclear negotiator. Ruling Saenuri Party Rep. Chung Mong-joon will also be joining from the political circles, Cheong Wa Dae said.
By Lee Joo-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)