Seoul, Beijing need to augment their fruitful cooperative partnership
Published: Aug 25, 2022 07:36 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China and South Korea, celebrating their 30 years of diplomatic relations, should join in close partnership to strive for even greater mutual benefits and common prosperity for their respective peoples. The two countries should also try to be exemplary in the world in setting up pragmatic diplomacy. 

In recent years, China and South Korea have endeavored to boost their strategic and cooperative partnership in numerous sectors, as well as promoting a high level and fruitful relationship. Trade, tourism and cultural exchange, specifically, have been the most important factors of strengthening the two neighboring countries' cooperative partnership and people-to-people friendship

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday said that negotiations about the second-phase of the FTA between China and South Korea should aim for a quick resolution, and the two countries need to strengthen cooperation in arenas including industrial and supply chains, advanced manufacturing and efforts to control climate change, Xinhua reported.

In 2015, China and South Korea signed the bilateral China-South Korea Free Trade Agreement which aimed to boost annual bilateral trade to over $300 billion, while lifting both countries' GDP.

It is of rising importance for the two countries to adhere to multilateralism and economic globalization, and jointly ramp up efforts to maintain safe and functioning industrial and supply chains, at a time when the global and regional geopolitical landscape undergoes profound change, and the global economy is facing growing headwinds under more complex geopolitical uncertainties 

For South Korea to ensure steady trade and economic growth over the coming years, it needs to adopt bold policies and work more closely work with its neighboring countries. China and South Korea should strengthen cooperation, promote a just and reasonable global governance system, make positive contributions to the stability of the global supply chains, and promote regional and global peace and prosperity through enhancing their stable and fruitful bilateral relations.

President Yoon Suk-yeol was sworn in as the 20th South Korean president early this year, who is very much hoped to build up wealth and improve people's livelihood for most South Koreans. But Seoul now has to deal with a spate of thorny issues, such as surging inflation, severely disrupted global supply chains, a worldwide energy and grain supply crisis, as well as forced interest rate hikes to keep line with the US Federal Reserve's cyclical policy tightening to control inflation

Seoul may find the complex and intertwined regional and international geopolitical issues more intractable. But one thing is certain that it should continue to augment win-win relations with Beijing, and strengthen economic cooperation on trade and investment with China, the world's biggest manufacturing powerhouse. 

After establishing diplomatic relations 30 years ago, economic and trade cooperation between the two countries witnessed robust and healthy development. The two countries regard each other as important, strategic economic partners.

Currently, China is South Korea's largest trade partner and largest export market, while South Korea is China's third-largest trading partner and second-largest source of foreign direct investment. Despite the protracted impact of COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral trade reached $362 billion in 2021, up 26.9 percent year-on-year. As of the end of 2021, South Korea's actual investment in China accumulated to $90 billion, according to Chinese official data.

Seoul has announced its agendas in 110 fields, making clear that it will manage regional industry and supply chains with neighbors, actively participate in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other regional trade agreements, and deepen global economic cooperation to improve its foreign trade receipt. 

Economic cooperation has been the foundation of China-South Korea cooperation, which will continue in the future. The widening of reform and further opening-up by China, combined with its solid economic foundation and a huge consumer market, will not only contribute to the development of the world economy, but also promote economic cooperation between China and South Korea, which will help the two sides to overcome the political and economic changes in the world

The two nations should also strengthen high-level strategic communication to avoid intruding in each other's sensitive issues and to broaden cooperation in industry and supply chains, healthcare, the fight against climate change, and to expand cultural exchanges.

Since both countries are facing severe challenges at home and abroad, they should establish exchange and communication mechanisms in multiple areas, in order to avoid risks in the future. Both nations have been bound together by a shared history, including an overlap in cuisine, religion, a common language script and legal systems, and kinship ties that reach back thousands of years to Song and Ming dynasties. 

People-to-people exchanges, especially tourism, should be resumed between the two countries after the pandemic is being put under firm control. By enhancing communication through the existing means and taking practical actions, the two countries can effectively deal with the challenges posed by the changing political and economic situations at home and abroad, and carry forward their 30-year cooperation momentum to achieve more win-win results.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.