The Republic of Korea (ROK) and China should work together to make qualitative advancement in economic cooperation, in face of the challenges and opportunities brought about by the booming knowledge economy in today's world, Lee Myung-bak, President of ROK, said here on Wednesday at a luncheon with some ROK entrepreneurs in China.
The visiting leader also stressed the two countries should achieve win-win development during the bilateral exchanges based on pragmatistic, substantive and practical cooperation.
In his speech at the luncheon, Lee said the ROK expects to enhance cooperation with China not only in the manufacturing industry, but also in service sectors of the knowledge economy such as software, finance, communication and logistics.
Due to the surging price of crude oil, raw materials and food, both ROK and China are confronted with possible energy insufficiency. ROK expects to cooperate with China in nuclear energy or other new energy exploration, and put more emphasis on green and energy-saving industrials, Lee said. In addition, he advocated the ROK to develop cooperation with China in fields such as global environment protection and climate change.
As to the current situation with about 18,000 South Korean enterprises operating in China, he expressed hope for ROK entrepreneurs to participate more in the middle, western and northeastern development of China. Lee also expressed a welcome by Chinese firms to invest in the ROK.
He applauded that the bilateral relations had developed "rapidly and unprecedentedly" since China forged diplomatic ties with ROK in 1992. Lee said the two countries were pursuing a free trade agreement (FTA) based on a joint industry, government and academic study, which has been ongoing since last year. If the two reach consensus in line with win-win principle, the FTA will ushera new development era for the economic circle of Northeast Asia, Lee said.
China is ROK's biggest trading partner whose two-way trade with the ROK, Asia's fourth-largest economy, was US$145 billion last year.
Lee also expressed his condolences to the victims of the May 12earthquake in Sichuan Province. He believed a united Chinese people would prevail over the disaster and rebuild their homes in the near future.
According to the source with China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Sohn Kyung-shik, head of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, donated 2 million yuan to the quake-hit area on Tuesday on behalf of the ROK business community.
Lee also reiterated his attendance at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games this August in his speech.
His current visit to China has yielded fruitful results up to now, with the signing of a new strategic partnership agreement with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday.
He will also deliver a speech at Peking University, and tour the main stadium of the Beijing Olympic Games on Thursday.
On his way home, Lee plans to visit Qingdao, a seaport city in the northeastern Shandong Province.