For a stronger Asia-Pacific community, China and S. Korea should forge closer ties
by Xinhua writer Xia Yuanyi
BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping's special representative Wang Qishan, also Chinese vice president, attends the inauguration ceremony of South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Tuesday, at the invitation of the South Korean government.
Back in March following Yoon's election victory, Xi held a telephone conversation with him, during which the Chinese leader pointed out that the two countries are permanent close neighbors that cannot move away, and are also inseparable partners. Those diplomatic moves, particularly as the two countries observe the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year, reflect Beijing's expectation to forge closer and more productive partnership with Seoul.
China-South Korea relations have blossomed over the past three decades, with considerable interaction and exchanges of businesses and people, laying a sound foundation for future cooperation, including in regional and international affairs.
China has become South Korea's largest trading partner, export destination and import source. In 2021, the trade volume between China and South Korea reached 362.35 billion U.S. dollars.
In June 2020, a demonstration zone for China-South Korea cooperation was unveiled in northeast China's Jilin province, where a batch of industrial parks have been planned for bilateral collaboration in medicine, IT, high-end equipment and intelligent manufacturing, among other fields.
This year also marks the China-South Korea Year of Cultural Exchanges. Sharing close East Asian cultural roots, the two sides have seen notable headway in people-to-people exchanges in recent years. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the two countries' people-to-people exchanges reached 10 million visits per year. Both sides are also each other's top source of overseas students.
According to Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming, the two governments are planning to take the anniversary of diplomatic ties and the year of cultural exchanges as an opportunity to step up people-to-people exchanges between the two countries and revitalize bilateral communications and cooperation in the fields of press, think-tank, sports and arts.
As a South Korean adage goes: While a house could be bought with a handful of coppers, a good neighbor is worth thousands of pieces of gold. The past achievements in cooperation between the two neighbors have demonstrated that they are partners with converging interests, not adversaries from different camps.
As two important countries in East Asia, China and South Korea shoulder great responsibility to preserve regional peace and stability. And that depends on mutual respect for each other's major security concerns.
In early May, South Korea's National Intelligence Service confirmed the decision to join the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence. Also, Seoul's foreign minister nominee Park Jin said recently that South Korea is considering attending a NATO summit in Madrid next month.
These moves do not necessarily mean an actual NATO membership, yet China has made it clear that NATO, a product of the Cold War, has repeatedly violated international law and wantonly waged wars against sovereign countries. Allowing NATO to expand its influence in the Asia-Pacific would only undermine regional security and peace, and provoke confrontation.
In fact, maintaining regional security and stability, which can only be achieved through dialogue and consultation, is in the common interest of both China and South Korea and the whole region. A political settlement to the Korean Peninsula issue, one of South Korea's top security concerns, tallies with China's position.
To that end, China is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with South Korea on Peninsula affairs and provide assistance within its capacity, as Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated on various diplomatic occasions.
Keeping peace and harmony with neighbors is embedded in the Chinese people's long-established values. It is hoped that the new South Korean government can join China in maintaining the hard-earned development momentum in bilateral relations and jointly build a more peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific community.