China's top envoy to South Korea on Thursday touted the relationship between the two neighbors as the "best" since the establishment of their diplomatic ties in 1992, saying that their common interests have been increasing "unprecedentedly."
The remarks by Chinese Ambassador to Korea Qiu Guohong came a month after he warned the bilateral relations would be "destroyed" should an advanced U.S. missile defense system be deployed to the Korean Peninsula.
"China and South Korea are currently in a period when their relations are the best since the establishment of their relations," he said during a congratulatory speech at the opening of a photo exhibition showcasing the history of Korea's government-in-exile, which was launched on April 13, 1919, in Shanghai, China.
He also stressed the two nations have been striving to forge four cooperative relations -- for realizing co-development, contributing to regional peace, pursuing Asia's development and promoting prosperity in the world.
"We genuinely hope that China and South Korea will become good neighbors, good friends and good partners by relentlessly deepening cooperation in all directions and the bilateral strategic partnership," he said.
After Seoul and Washington launched working-level talks earlier this month over the stationing here of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, tensions between the two neighbors escalated with Beijing criticizing THAAD as a system to undermine its security interests.
During a congressional session on Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that the allies have agreed "in principle" to deploy THAAD to Korea.
Beijing has argued that the long-range radar system, embedded in the THAAD battery, would be employed to monitor its military movements. The AN/TPY 0-2 radar is known to have a detection range of some 1,800 kilometers.
A THAAD battery consists of six truck-mounted launchers, 48 interceptors (eight per launcher), a fire control and communications unit and a radar system.
Touching on Korea's government-in-exile, the Chinese ambassador said that it is a symbol of the two countries' neighborly ties and a common historical asset.
"The historic sites related to the government-in-exile that have been well preserved in China attest to our history of fighting together against foreign forces and repression, and safeguarding our nations," he said. (Yonhap)