President Park Geun-hye’s meeting on Sunday with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague provided much-needed momentum to Park’s efforts to set the unification process in motion.
At the meeting, held ahead of the summit between the United States, Korea and Japan, Park gained full support from Xi for her vision of a unified Korea ― a nuclear-free nation that would symbolize peace and become a growth engine in Northeast Asia.
Park also explained her recently announced plan to launch a preparatory committee for unification as well as her efforts to forge a higher level of cooperation with North Korea based on mutual trust.
Xi reaffirmed his full support for Park’s push for unification, expressing his hope that “the two Koreas achieve unification in an independent and peaceful way by carrying out a process of reconciliation and cooperation.”
It was the first time for the leaders of the two countries to disclose their discussions on the unification of the two Koreas. This reflects the significant changes that have taken place in the relationships between China and the two Koreas.
Xi’s unequivocal support for Park’s unification policy gave a big boost to her diplomatic efforts to achieve unification. Park is visiting Germany later this week to unveil a more detailed vision of unification and secure the powerful European country’s full backing.
Securing international support is important in preparing for unification. China’s support, in particular, cannot be overemphasized. In this regard, Park should continue to make efforts to maintain close ties with Xi and secure his unwavering support for her unification policy.
At the summit, Xi also pledged continued efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear programs. Furthermore, he openly said China would lead the North in the direction that the international community wanted it to go. Xi’s comments suggested China would step up pressure on North Korea to open up.
In fact, North Korea has recently begun to make conciliatory gestures toward the South and Japan, easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Its ongoing negotiations with Japan suggest a shift in foreign policy.
The Sunday meeting was also meaningful as it allowed the two leaders to cement their already solid ties. Park expressed thanks for Xi’s cooperation in building a memorial hall for Ahn Jung-geun, a revered Korean independence fighter, in Harbin, while Xi expressed gratitude to Park for the planned repatriation of the remains of more than 400 Chinese troops killed during the Korean War.
Now that the two leaders have started to discuss unification issues, they need to carry their talks forward and make joint efforts to accelerate the unification process.