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Strategic partners stress shared aspirations: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2020-11-26 19:57
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State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. [Photo/Xinhua]

Wang Yi's ongoing visit to neighboring Republic of Korea, the second by a high-ranking Chinese official since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, means a lot for both countries.

Like the visit in August by Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, it is a sign of Beijing's sincerity in re-affirming its commitment to the way the two countries have positioned their bilateral ties — friendly neighbors plus "strategic partners" for the post-pandemic period.

Judging from the tone of the talks between Wang and his ROK counterpart, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, Beijing can rest assured that such a desire is shared. The two foreign ministers confirmed on Thursday that the two countries have the common aspiration to consolidate and deepen their partnership as they prepare to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of their diplomatic relationship in two years.

Since the two countries were in rival camps throughout the Cold War, they did not establish diplomatic relations until after the end of that long standoff and a thaw in ties between the two Koreas. The relatively short history of such a relationship, however, has not prevented the two sides from developing fairly close ties at both the government and people-to-people levels.

Yet the possibility of Cold War-style rivalry staging a comeback has emerged, and that has created occasional troubles for bilateral ties. Geographic proximity, cultural similarities, and economic complementarity have laid favorable groundwork for the friendly, pragmatic relationship that both parties know has served them well. So the two sides have generally been able to prevent bilateral ties from being derailed, especially by third-party factors.

The industry and supply chains the two sides have formed over the past decades determine they are in a relationship where when one fails, the pain for the other may be just as acute. Not to mention their common needs and aspirations for a peaceful Korean Peninsula, East Asia, and Asia-Pacific; collective wellness in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and swift post-pandemic recovery. As Wang told Kang, Beijing sees great potential for the two countries to coordinate and cooperate on regional and international affairs, as well as global governance.

Another, perhaps more imperative, task following the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement is completing the China-Japan-ROK negotiations on a more advanced free trade agreement. To what extent the RCEP can rally and invigorate regional economies rests largely on how well the three East Asian neighbors collaborate.

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