Meeting between Xi and Moon could signal thaw in Sino-South Korean relations

By Bu Yingna Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/12 20:53:40

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT


Over the weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping met South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam. According to the Xinhua News Agency, Xi told Moon on Saturday the two countries "are close neighbors that cannot move away and are natural cooperation partners."

It is believed that inseparable economic and trade links between China and South Korea are playing a role as a stabilizer for bilateral ties, helping to ease tensions brought by South Korea's deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

The divergence between China and South Korea over THAAD has lasted for over a year. South Korea has stuck to the deployment of the missile-defense system despite China's strong opposition and this triggered a sharp decline in the economic and trade relations between the two countries. As a result, the country's trade with China suffered a heavy blow, damaging the interests of various industries in South Korea.

Besides trade, the THAAD storm touched almost every aspect of South Korea's economy. Tourism was also badly affected, with a sharp decline seen in the number of visitors from China.

Although the THAAD deployment has brought a prolonged negative impact for trade relations between China and South Korea, the situation has gradually improved this year.

Years of in-depth cooperation have made the economies of both countries inseparable. Although THAAD is still a big issue, South Korea's exports to China have started to rise this year and cooperation may continue to improve for the sake of future development.

According to Chinese customs data, in the first three quarters of this year, the total trade volume between China and South Korea reached 1.38 trillion yuan ($208 billion), accounting for 6.8 percent of China's total foreign trade value over the same period. China's imports from South Korea also amounted to 868.42 billion yuan during the period, an increase of 15.8 percent year-on-year.

Long-standing economic exchanges have cultivated trade intimacy and an interlinked development mode for the two countries. At present, China is South Korea's largest trading partner and South Korea is China's fifth-largest export destination.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Korea. As time has gone by, both countries have achieved fruitful results in numerous fields, and the relationship is by no means one-sided. Currently, China has considerable demand for Korean chips and chemical products. South Korean customs data has shown that mechanical and electrical products, chemical products and optical medical equipment are the main categories in terms of South Korea's exports to China. In the first half of this year, the exports of these three categories amounted to $32.52 billion, $9.19 billion and $7.35 billion, respectively, an increase of 16.4 percent, 40.9 percent and 1.2 percent.

The trade structure between China and South Korea shows they are inseparable partners. This hard-won relationship is worth protecting, and cooperative development is the only path that can lead to a brighter future.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

Posted in: INSIDER'S EYE

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