South Korea, China Seek to Warm Frozen Ties

   •    31 Oktober 2017 13:58 WIB
east asia
South Korea, China Seek to Warm Frozen Ties
A South Korean protestor holds up a placard reading "No THAAD!" during a rally against the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system near the presidential Blue House in Seoul on July 31, 2017.(Photo:AFP/Jung Yeon-Je), Seoul: South Korea and China sought Tuesday to unblock a relationship strained by a US defence missile system, issuing strikingly similar statements, with Seoul saying their leaders would hold talks on the sidelines of next week's APEC summit.

Asia's number one and four economies have been at loggerheads over the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which Seoul and Washington say is to defend against missile threats from nuclear-armed Pyongyang. 

Beijing sees it as a threat to its own military capabilities and has slapped a series of measures on South Korean firms and banned tour groups going to the country in moves seen as economic retaliation.

China is South Korea's biggest trading partner and its measures have heavily impacted some of the South's biggest companies, including retail conglomerate Lotte, which provided a golf course used for the THAAD deployment, and carmaker Hyundai.

But in virtually identical statements issued by their foreign ministries, the two countries said they had agreed to address China's concerns over THAAD through future discussions.

"The two sides agreed to communicate through the channels of the two armed forces on the THAAD issues of concern to the Chinese side," said the statement from Beijing.

"The two sides attach great importance" to their bilateral relations, it added, and they agreed to increase cooperation in various fields "in order to return to a normal development track".

South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will have a summit on the sidelines of the APEC gathering in Danang, Vietnam, Seoul's presidential office said.

"The agreement to hold the summit is the first step to restore bilateral cooperation and exchanges in all areas to a normal path," said Nam Gwan-Pyo, Seoul's deputy director of national security.

It follows a similar meeting in Berlin in July ahead of the G20 summit.

But there were indications that negotiations on THAAD might not be so smooth.

South Korea's foreign ministry said in its statement that Beijing had also expressed its "concern" over the deployment, as well as Seoul's military cooperation with Washington and Tokyo.

"The Korean side reiterated its positions that it had publicly stated" while China "hoped that the Korean side would deal with related issues appropriately", it added. (AFP)