Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday said he expects China and the Republic of Korea
(ROK) to speed up the study of a free trade area (FTA).
"China and the ROK should come up with a win-win FTA proposal at an early
date to pave the way for the FTA," Wen said in a joint interview with
journalists from 19 ROK news organizations.
The interview came ahead of Wen's ROK trip scheduled for April 10-11, the
first by a Chinese premier in eight years.
China appreciates the fact that the ROK recognized China as a full market
economy, Wen said.
Bilateral trade volume has increased by 26 times - to $130 billion last year
- since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1992.
"The close trade ties are based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit
and complementarity," Wen said.
He cited a target set by President Hu Jintao and his ROK counterpart Roh
Moon-hyun - during their meetings in 2005 and 2006 - of trade worth $200 billion
Hu and Roh also agreed on five investment and trade liberalization measures
and defined 12 key areas of cooperation.
Wen urged the two countries to work more closely on energy conservation,
environmental protection, and the hi-tech industry.
He also proposed the two countries step up consultations within the framework
of the World Trade Organization, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and
other international mechanisms.
Wen, along with ROK leaders, will inaugurate the China-ROK Exchange Year in
Seoul, which includes 47 China-sponsored exchange programs.
On the Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue,
Wen said the relevant parties should continue consultations so that a peace
mechanism can be established on the peninsula.
In response to a question about the unification of the Korean Peninsula, Wen
said it would be up to the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (DPRK) to resolve the issue "independently and peacefully".
"We hope the ROK and the DPRK develop mutual trust and mend ties through
negotiation and dialogue.
"This is a pre-requisite for independent and peaceful unification," Wen said.
"The Chinese government will continue to play a positive role in this regard."
Wen said there are no territorial issues between China and the ROK, pointing
out that the two countries enjoy a shared history and cultural and economic
exchanges for thousands of years.
(China Daily 04/06/2007 page2)