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How to raise China-ROK ties to a new level

(People's Daily Online)

14:20, June 28, 2013

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with South Korean President Park Geun-hye after their talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, June 27, 2013. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)

Edited and Translated by Liang Jun

South Korea's first female President, Park Geun-hye, began her four-day visit to China on Thursday. First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun described it as a historic visit, with epoch-making significance.

What makes the visit historic?

China and South Korea marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties last year. Bilateral relations have seen rapid growth over the past 20 years.

By 2012 trade between China and South Korea had increased by a factor of 40 ; it is expected to exceed 300 billion U.S. dollars shortly as the two countries are currently working on a free trade agreement.

China is South Korea's largest trading partner, and both the largest export market and the largest source of imports. In addition, China is South Korea's largest destination for overseas investment. At the same time South Korea is China's third-largest trading partner and third-largest source of foreign direct investment. South Korea is also China's largest source of tourists, and there were more than 6 million mutual visits between the two countries in 2011.

Therefore, tapping the potential of Sino-Korean ties and achieving a new and historic leap forward are the key aims of President Park Geun-hye's China visit.

What makes President Park Geun-hye's trip to China of epoch-making significance?

Since taking office in February, President Park Geun-hye has been a passionate proponent of the Korean Peninsula Trust Process, and her vision for peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia, dubbed the "Seoul process", has been greeted with enthusiasm by all parties concerned.

South Korea is the only country in Northeast Asia which has established friendly relations with both the United States and China. Undoubtedly, President Park Geun-hye will build good working relationships with both her U.S. counterpart Barack Obama and her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during her visits to the United States and in China.

On the debit side, it is unfortunate that the DPRK and the U.S. are the two major external factors hindering the further improvement of China-ROK ties. So the question how to advance bilateral ties beyond their bilateral scope, beyond the DPRK nuclear issue, and beyond the US-ROK alliance, is of epoch-making significance

This requires us to redefine the network of relationships involved. China and the U.S. are working together to build new-model major country relationship, a fact that sits well with the strategic circumstances in which South Korea current finds itself - relying on China for its economic interests while turning to the U.S. for security purposes.

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