Xi's upcoming visit to South Korea to enhance strategic partnership

Updated: 2014-06-28 21:24


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BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to pay a two-day state visit to South Korea next week, which will be a major historic event in the development of relations between China and South Korea.

The visit will be Xi's first to South Korea since he took office last year.

Observers say the visit is aimed at outlining the future development of bilateral ties, adding impetus to economic and cultural cooperation, and promoting regional peace and stability.

Increase of strategic communication

In face of the ever-changing international and regional situation, it has become imperative for Chinese and South Korean leaders to further increase strategic communication between their two countries, experts say.

In Seoul, the Chinese president will hold talks with his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye to exchange views on bilateral ties as well as regional and international issues of common concern.

The two heads of state are also expected to work together to lay out the course of future development of bilateral relations, said Qu Xing, head of the China Institute of International Studies.

The two countries, blessed with geographical proximity, cultural affinity and frequent economic exchanges, have reached important consensus on enhancing their relations of strategic cooperation and partnership since 2008.

"How to optimize the direction of future development of bilateral relations, how to build a stable and prosperous Northeast Asia and how to push forward settlement of global issues might be among the subjects of their conversation," said Piao Jianyi, chief researcher at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Advancement of economic, cultural cooperation

Noting that Xi's visit is indicative of the great importance China attaches to its relations with South Korea, Qu said the two countries have enjoyed sound development of bilateral ties over the past two decades, and their cooperation in various fields has brought about tangible benefits to the two peoples.

Two-way trade between China and South Korea surpassed 270 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, an increase of 7 percent year-on-year, equating to South Korea's trade volume with the United States and Japan combined.

China is South Korea's No.1 trading partner, largest export destination and import source, as well as its No.1 destination of overseas investment. As for South Korea, it is China's third largest trading partner and third largest source of foreign direct investment.

To build up such momentum, Xi's upcoming visit will provide opportunity for the two sides to further deepen economic and trade cooperation by identifying the converging points in their respective long-term economic strategies and exploring new cooperation potentials.

In particular, the visit is expected to greatly advance the negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).

The China-South Korea FTA, when finalized, will help the two countries improve mutual complementarity of markets and strengthen the foundation for regional economic integration, said Lee Hee-Ok, professor at the Seoul-based Sungkyunkwan University.

Meanwhile, it is widely expected that the visit by the Chinese president will facilitate cultural exchanges between the two sides and further deepen the two peoples' understanding of each other.

"President Xi Jinping, with his personal charisma, is well-received in South Korea, and President Park Geun Hye has many fans in China as well. This visit will bring the two peoples even closer together," said Wang Junsheng, a research on East Asian studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Enhancement of regional stability

To exchange views with South Korea on the situation in Northeast Asia will be on the top of the agenda of Xi's visit, experts say, as it is closely related to the core national interests of both sides.

Among the regional issues, the Korean Peninsula situation and the latest moves taken by Japan's right-leaning government are the most immediate concern. On the settlement of the issues, China and South Korea share much common ground, noted Piao.

"Both countries insist on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, solving the issue through dialogue and creating conditions for resuming the six-party talks," he said.

As for Japan, both China and South Korea firmly oppose the country's denial and beautification of its history of aggression, and stay on high alert of its recent move to revive past militarism, he added.

Xi's visit to South Korea is sending an important signal to the rest of the world that the two nations are both committed to safeguarding regional peace and stability, noted Zha Daojiong, a professor at the School of International Studies, Peking University.

"The two sides should strengthen communication and coordination so as to serve as a stabilizing force in this region," he added.