China will likely send a delegation led by a high-ranking communist party official to South Korea during next month's Winter Olympic Games, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.
China has recently informed South Korea that Han Zheng, No. 7 in the Communist Party of China, will make a trip to South Korea in time for the Feb. 9-25 Winter Olympics, which will be held in the South's alpine town of PyeongChang, according to the sources.
"Currently, South Korea and China are fine-tuning relevant matters and it will be announced sooner or later," a source said. "If Han comes, it can be understood that he will lead a Chinese delegation."
Foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk later confirmed in a regular press briefing that the relevant arrangements are under way, saying Han is likely to come to the South to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
Han Zheng, No. 7 in the Communist Party of China. (AP)
Han served as mayor of Shanghai from 2003 to 2012 and secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee from 2012 before being promoted in October to member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau.
With the high-ranking party official likely to visit the South as chief delegate, it remains unclear whether Chinese leader Xi Jinping will come to South Korea during the Olympic period.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in asked Xi to attend the closing ceremony of the games in a phone conversation last week, but the Chinese leader has not yet provided a clear answer.
Regarding worries that few leaders of neighboring countries, including China and Japan, have expressed definitive willingness to visit South Korea for the Olympics, the spokesman said that their participation is important for the successful hosting of the global sports event.
Noh emphasized that leaders of dozens of countries from distant regions such as Europe have decided to come to South Korea for the Olympics, saying there is no need to worry. (Yonhap)