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Xi calls for healthy ROK ties

By AN BAIJIE/MO JINGXI | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-11 06:17

President urges mutual trust and proper handling of disagreements  

President Xi Jinping called for joint efforts to strengthen mutual political trust and properly handle disagreements in a congratulatory message on Wednesday to the newly elected president of the Republic of Korea.

Noting that he has always attached great importance to China-ROK relations, Xi wrote Moon Jae-in that the two countries should push forward the healthy and stable development of ties under the basis of mutual understanding and respect.

Moon, of the liberal Democratic Party, won the presidential election by a landslide on Tuesday to replace ousted president Park Geun-hye, who was impeached in December on charges of bribery and abuse of power.

Analysts said Moon is likely to seek to mend China-ROK relations damaged by the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system led by the United States.

In the message, Xi said the development of China-ROK relations has not only brought tangible benefits for the people of both countries, but also made positive contributions to regional peace and stability.

Xi pointed out that China and the ROK are important neighbors. Relations have been comprehensively developed in the 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, he said.

Xi said he would like to work with Moon to help China-ROK relations better benefit the two countries and their people.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular news conference that China's stance on the deployment of THAAD is consistent. He called on the ROK to attach importance to China's concerns and handle the THAAD issue properly.

Moon said in his inaugural speech that he will sincerely negotiate with the US and China over the deployment of THAAD.

During his campaign, Moon argued for a parliamentary ratification and public consensus for the THAAD installation that can influence the country's society from diplomatic, security and economic perspectives.

Part of the US missile-interception system has been transported to the deployment site in the country's southeastern region, causing strong protests from anti-THAAD activists and residents.

Huang Youfu, a Korean studies professor at Minzu University of China in Beijing, said it's impossible for the ROK's new government to withdraw the deployment given the current situation of the Korean Peninsula.

But Moon is highly likely to take measures to improve the relations with China, and Beijing will welcome such moves, he said.

Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said Moon faces challenges on the THAAD issue as he has to balance domestic public opinions while also coordinating the relations with both China and the US.

China and the ROK should create opportunities now to enhance strategic mutual trust and improve relations, he said.

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