Senior Chinese, South Korean diplomats vow closer ties

BEIJING-

Top diplomats from South Korea and China pledged Tuesday to develop closer relations and maintain stable industrial supply chains at a time of deepening rivalry between Beijing and Washington.

South Korea, a longtime US ally, is struggling to strike a balance between Washington and the increasingly assertive foreign policy of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government. The conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan has added to the complications for governments that want friendly ties with both sides.

Foreign Ministers Park Jin and Wang Yi, in separate remarks at their meeting in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, called for the development of relations based on three decades of successful trade ties.

Park’s ministry said the countries agreed to increase high-level communication on supply chain issues, cooperation on climate change and facilitation of cultural exchanges. He said the countries agreed to enter into “two plus two” talks with deputy minister-level foreign affairs and defense officials within the year.

Park and Wang gave no indication they discussed tensions over last week’s visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to self-rule Taiwan, which the mainland’s ruling Communist Party claims which is Chinese territory. Beijing reacted to her visit by holding military exercises to intimidate the island and called off talks with Washington on climate change and other issues.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in March, wants to improve security ties with Washington and Japan in response to nuclear threats from North Korea. China, North Korea’s main ally, sees Japan as a strategic rival, but it is also South Korea’s biggest export market.

Pelosi visited South Korea last week, but Yoon, who was on vacation, spoke with her on the phone instead of face-to-face. Her critics accused him of avoiding seeing her to protect her relations with China.

Park and Wang called for keeping industry supply chains stable, a possible reference to fears that Chinese tech policy and US security controls could divide the world into separate markets with incompatible products and standards, slowing down innovation and increasing costs.

Park expressed his hope that the two sides will enhance cooperation based on “universal values ​​and standards.” He said they must overcome the new challenges posed by a “great transition in international society,” but gave no details.

Park called on Beijing to help persuade North Korea to return to talks over its nuclear weapons program, calling it an “unprecedented threat” to peace on the Korean peninsula.

Park stressed that the UN-led international community must respond to North Korea’s major provocations with tough and unified measures, and urged closer consultations between Seoul and Beijing on the North’s accelerated efforts to expand its arsenal, according to his ministry.

China and Russia recently vetoed US-sponsored resolutions at the UN Security Council that would have increased sanctions against North Korea for some of its ballistic missile tests this year, underscoring the division among the council’s permanent members who it was deepened by Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Wang’s statement did not mention the nuclear issue and did not indicate whether he said what Beijing might do. The South Korean Foreign Ministry said Wang told Park that China will continue to make every effort for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Park also expressed his hope that Xi, the Chinese leader, would visit South Korea.

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