China urges better ties with South Korea despite ‘challenges’

BEIJING: Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi called for better relations with South Korea as he met with his counterpart from Seoul during rare talks in Beijing, state-run Xinhua reported Tuesday.
The visit by Cho Tae-yul to the Chinese capital on Monday and Tuesday is the first visit by a South Korean foreign minister to Beijing in over six years.
Ties between the two countries “have been facing difficulties and challenges”, Wang said, according to Xinhua.
He called for the two sides to “understand and respect each other, strengthen communication and exchanges, eliminate misunderstandings and enhance mutual trust”, the Xinhua report stated.
He also hoped that Seoul would “properly and prudently” handle Taiwan-related issues and abide by the “one-China” policy.
China has in recent years ramped up military and political pressure on democratic Taiwan, which it claims as its territory.
In April, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol said that tensions over Taiwan were due to “attempts to change the status quo by force”.
The comment resulted in a diplomatic tit-for-tat, with Beijing lodging a protest, which Seoul condemned as a “serious diplomatic discourtesy”.
Cho said better ties were in the “common interests” of both countries and that Seoul was willing to expand mutual trust, according to Xinhua.
The visit comes ahead of an expected trilateral summit with Japan, expected at the end of the month, which has been seen as an attempt to ease Beijing’s concerns over Washington’s deepening security ties with Tokyo and Seoul.
As the threat from nuclear-armed North Korea grows, Yoon has pulled Seoul closer to long-standing ally Washington.
He has meanwhile sought to bury the hatchet with Japan, also a close US ally.
Beijing is Seoul’s largest trading partner, but is also North Korea’s main ally and economic benefactor.
The last such summit took place in 2019.


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