China, South Korea resume meetings as ties recover from THAAD tensions

By Shan Jie and Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/29 21:43:40

Bilateral ties recover from THAAD tensions

China and South Korea have restarted communication on a government level, a signal that Chinese analysts said showed relations between the two countries are recovering after being overshadowed by the deployment in spring last year of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system.

The 15th seminar of local governments of China and South Korea opened Wednesday in Yinchuan, Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Ningxia's news site reported.

The meeting seeks to promote sustainable development and friendly cooperation between local governments of China and South Korea.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the South Korean Embassy participated in the meeting, together with 49 local foreign affairs offices in China and 14 such departments of South Korea.

According to South Korea's Ajunnews, the seminar started in 2002 and was hosted annually in different cities in China. The meeting was suspended last year in protest over the US missile system.

Before that, communication between the two countries was progressing. Travel agencies in Shanghai on August 23 resumed tours to South Korea after halting them for 17 months.

The two countries' representatives also signed a memorandum of understanding on August 1 for strengthening communication in the younger generation, the Yonhap News Agency said.

"The cooperation between local governments of both countries is an important move to promote regional integration," Da Zhigang, director of the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Northeast Asian Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

After the visit of South Korean President Moon Jae-in to China in December, South Korea also made other moves to improve the bilateral relationship such as acknowledging the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative and promoting free trade, Da said.

Da predicted China-South Korea relations are unlikely to return to the honeymoon period of earlier this decade, as the US missile deployment was still the biggest obstacle.

Da called on South Korea to respond to the Chinese government and people's demand and promote the bilateral relationship.

Zhang Huizhi, deputy dean of the Northeast Asian Studies College at Jilin University, agreed with Da that a big recovery was unlikely in China-South Korea relations.

"The bilateral relationship is not only based on emotions, but also on principles of sovereignty, security and win-win cooperation," Zhang told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"Even though the tendency is that the relationship is recovering gradually, the THAAD issue cannot be completely resolved without US participation."

Newspaper headline: China, S.Korea resume meeting

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