Chinese FM meets S.Korean president, wraps up four-nation visit
Wang Yi's Asia trip appeases neighbors amid US pressure
Published: Sep 15, 2021 11:10 PM
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul, South Korea,Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

In the final stop of his four-nation Asia trip, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday, with both sides agreeing to boost ties, and Moon called on China to continue to play a constructive role in the Korean Peninsula issue.

Observers said that Wang Yi's tour, which took him to China's four neighboring countries - Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore and South Korea, set a ballast stone for regional peace and economic prosperity, amid the chaos brought by the US. 

Moon said South Korea attaches great importance to its relationship with China. Despite the pandemic challenge, South Korea and China have maintained close high-level communication, and their economic and trade cooperation has grown, setting a good example for international cooperation against the epidemic.

Moon said South Korea hopes China will continue to play a constructive role in maintaining peace and contributing to the realization of the denuclearization of the Peninsula.

South Korea hopes to maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges with China, give full play to the role of the committee for future development of China-South Korea relations, expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and push for more fruitful cooperation in the economic sector, trade and environmental protection. It also supports China in hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics, Moon said. 

For his part, Wang said that China and South Korea are inseparable neighbors, as well as mutually beneficial and win-win partners.

Under the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries, the China-South Korea relations have maintained a sound momentum of development, and the friendship has been further deepened through joint efforts to fight the pandemic, Wang said.

Wang said that China firmly supports the efforts of two Koreas to overcome difficulties, remove interference and improve relations.  

Wang also held talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong in Seoul on Wednesday, and discussed the Korean Peninsula issue, Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday.

The importance of China for South Korea is evident, as China is the largest market for South Korea whose trade with China exceeds that with the US and Japan. Maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is an essential cornerstone for regional prosperity, also the common interests for both countries, Dong Xiangrong, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

For China, a stable diplomatic environment in its neighborhood is crucial, given the US military presence in South Korea at the current US-China competition in many areas, Dong noted. "Though South Korea is an ally of the US, its national interests do not always coincide with those of the US. This was reflected in South Korea's effort to keep a balance between its ally US and its strategic partner China in a bid to earn best interests."

"South Korea gradually realized that China is the anchor for regional peace while the US brought more instability and risks," Lü Chao, a fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Wang's visit to South Korea yielded the desired results, Lü pointed out, as South Korea has not publicly taken sides despite recent US pressure on Seoul.

"South Korea is facing a general election in 2022, and blindly picking sides will greatly increase the uncertainty of the election. The problems the country is facing include the epidemic and the sluggish economic development. If China and South Korea can reach a certain consensus in supporting South Korea to overcome the difficulties, it will help Moon to stabilize the political situation," Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

South Korea is Wang's last stop of a four-nation Asia tour after Vietnam, Cambodia, and Singapore. 

Coming about two weeks after US Vice President Kamala Harris' trip to the region that sought to pit countries against China, Wang's trip showed that China and the neighboring countries are aiming to work together to strengthen diplomatic relations and guard against the interference and instigation from outside forces, experts noted.

The four-nation tour achieved considerable results and stabilized the surrounding geopolitics despite strong pressure from the US, as more countries have seen the practical benefits of closer ties with China in terms of trade, the pandemic fight, regional peace and stability, Zheng said. "While the US uses the vaccines and other anti-epidemic assistance as 'bargaining chips' to force other countries and regions to pick sides, China provides anti-epidemic support generously. The sharp contrast also makes more countries see China's responsibility as a major regional power."

"The US fans the flames in China's neighborhood while China talking about mutual benefits with its neighbors. What a sharp contrast!" Lü said.