Presidential visit opens new era in Korea-China ties

Korea and China opened a door to the next two decades based on trust and faith. 

Under the slogan “A trip of heart and trust,” President Park Geun-hye’s first state visit to China offered a blueprint for future-centered cooperation between Seoul and Beijing for the next 20 years, backed by the trust of the two leaders of both countries. 

President Park Geun-hye (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands on June 29 at a luncheon banquet hosted by President Xi.
 The main outcome of the president’s China visit is the extending of Korea-China cooperation which previously focused on the economy and trade and is now expanding to wider areas, including politics and security. 

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, Korea-China ties have been dubbed “cold politics and hot economy” as it seemed to concentrate on economic cooperation, with some pointing out that the bilateral cooperation was limited to economy, not politics. 

Expectations to extend the economy-centered cooperation to politics were witnessed by the Chinese media and social networking channels even before the president began her China trip. The special protocol of the Chinese government for President Park also reflected such mood. 

After the Korea-China summit, President Park and President Xi Jinping adopted a joint communiqué through which the two leaders shared a common understanding of the need to upgrade the bilateral strategic partnership to a greater level of cooperation for the peace and prosperity of the international community. Both leaders also agreed to extend bilateral cooperation in all areas, including politics, security, economy, trade, society, and culture. 

President Park Geun-hye (left) smiles at President Xi Jinping during a joint press conference held on June 27 in Beijing.
One of the most notable outcomes in this regard is winning China’s support for President Park’s vision of the Korean Peninsula trust-building process. 

President Xi said he has “an optimistic view” on the Korean Peninsula trust-building process and that Beijing will closely cooperate with Seoul so that South Korea can manage the North Korean issue toward the goal of establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the greater Northeast Asian region. The two leaders also agreed to closely cooperate to work toward the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and contribute to peace and cooperation in the Northeast Asian region. 

China’s support for the Korean Peninsula trust-building process was reconfirmed in a series of meetings President Park had with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. 

President Park’s China state visit served as a cornerstone to upgrading bilateral cooperation in economy and trade which has shown remarkable progress over the last two decades. 

Through the summit talks, the two countries agreed to work together to reach an agreement in the ongoing negotiations for the Korea-China free trade agreement (FTA) and extend the ongoing won-yuan currency swap by three years, which shows a strong economic bond between the two countries. 

At a Korea-China business forum held in Beijing on June 28, President Park stressed that the 20-year-old cooperative relationship was built on trust between Korea and China, mentioning a Chinese proverb emphasizing the importance of becoming friends when doing business (先做朋友後做生意). 

In her meeting with party secretary of Shaanxi Province Zhao Zhengyong on June 30, President Park won support and cooperation from the province for Korean firms participating in development of China’s western region. Secretary Zhao said “the province will actively support Korean firms, including offering a good environment for development,” and “push ahead with a cooperation plan in the culture industry, including jointly creating a film between Korea and the province.” 

President Park Geun-hye and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet with Chinese youths on June 27 at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.
Another unforgettable milestone of the president’s China visit is the trust built for the future of Korea and China. 

While in Beijing on June 29, President Park delivered a friendship address titled “Korea-China, a trip of trust that opens the next two decades” at Tsinghua University, where President Xi graduated from. In her speech, the president expressed her hope that youths from the two countries can become closer through exchanges in culture and humanities studies and wished for a brighter future for them, which received a big applause from the audience. 

President Park (right) looks at one of the terracotta warriors during her visit to the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of unified China, in the ancient city of Xi’an on June 30 
After touring the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of unified China, in the ancient city of Xian on June 30, President Park expressed her amazement of human culture, saying “It is truly amazing that such sophisticated terracotta warriors were made more than 2,000 years ago,” while expressing her respect for Chinese culture and stressing the importance of cultural exchange. 

In meeting with Korean residents in Xi’an, the president said that Koreans living in the city largely contribute to cultural and economic exchanges between Korea and China. “More Korean companies will extend investment in Shaanxi Province, which will strengthen economic cooperation between Korea and the province, which will be in line with the Chinese government’s western region development project and contribute to development of the country’s domestic market,” said the president. 

President Park (right) meets with Koreans living in Xi’an on June 30

During her meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong on June 29, meanwhile, President Park proposed to return the remains of Chinese soldiers buried in South Korea.

Mentioning the theme of her China visit “A trip of heart and trust,” the president proposed to return the remains of about 360 Chinese soldiers to their homeland, remarking that this year marks the anniversary of the armistice of the Korean War (1950-1953). 

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