New South Korean administration eager to ease tensions with China over THAAD

By Xiao Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/10 22:38:39

Sino-South Korean economic relations are poised for a rapprochement as South Korea has elected a new president who, during his run for office, opposed the deployment of a contentious US antimissile defense system on his home soil.

Moon Jae-in was sworn in as the 19th president of South Korea on Wednesday, just hours after a landslide victory.

It is expected that Moon's rise to power will not only re-stabilize the country after it was engulfed by a bizarre political scandal that embroiled former president Park Geun-hye. It may also help the nation drive away the clouds hanging over the economic and trade ties with China.

It could well be said that, prior to the Park administration's decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system last summer, South Korea had been one of the most favored nations for Chinese consumers, notably in the areas of consumer goods, entertainment and tourism.

But Chinese people's attitude toward the East Asian nation became less favorable after South Korea's THAAD decision hit the headlines. South Korean retail giant Lotte's offer to host the defense system on land it owns proved particularly controversial.

As a consequence, bilateral trade has taken a hit, and the South Korean side has voiced concerns over the impact of bilateral tensions on both economies.

Apparently, South Korea's business world has become a victim of cooling China-South Korea ties, considering that China is the country's largest trading partner, accounting for roughly one-quarter of its external trade. At the same time, South Korea is China's fourth-largest trading partner and the source of highly important imports.

As such, sour economic relations between China and South Korea are in neither country's interest and would more worryingly put the prosperity of the global economy at risk, as both countries are integral to a stable global economy.

In a sign that the situation might change for the better, Moon has criticized THAAD in the run up to the election.

And it is now hoped that the new administration will move to genuinely defuse the tensions caused by THAAD deployment.

Only then will the two neighbors be able to resume their full and fruitful economic cooperation.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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