South Korean foreign minister seeks reassurance from Beijing

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin was due to make his first visit to China yesterday as South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s government seeks to reassure Beijing about their ties, despite stronger ties with the United States and tensions over Taiwan.

Park is to spend three days in the eastern port city of Qingdao, during which he will meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅), South Korea’s foreign ministry said.

Park is the first senior official to visit China since Yoon took office in May.

Photo: AFP

His trip comes after Beijing expressed outrage over US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week.

Yoon has come under fire from lawmakers for not meeting Pelosi. Yoon, who was on vacation, had a phone call with her instead. His office said the decision was taken into consideration of national interests and there was no pressure from Beijing.

The stakes are high for Park’s visit, as Seoul walks a fine line between its alliance with the United States and with China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, amid their escalating rivalry. .

Park said her trip would be a chance to reduce misunderstandings and strengthen cooperation in areas such as trade, health and the environment.

“By actively promoting high-level strategic communication, we can better understand each other, reduce unnecessary misunderstandings and expand common interests,” he said at a press conference.

Park said that when he met Wang at the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting last month in Thailand, he said South Korea was strengthening the US alliance and participation in a US-backed economic forum. United States for Asia, which Beijing said was designed to decouple countries from its economy. was not supposed to “neglect or set aside” relations with China.

The two sides also face a potential surge of the US THAAD missile defense system stationed in South Korea, as well as Seoul’s possible involvement in a US-led chip alliance involving Taiwan and Japan, to which China opposes.

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