South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin speaks during a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, July 27, 2022. (LEE JIN-MAN / AP)
SEOUL – South Korea foreign minister Park Jin is set for his first visit to China on Monday as President Yoon Suk-yeol's government seeks to reassure Beijing about their relationship despite stronger ties with the United States.
Park is scheduled for a three-day stay in the eastern port city of Qingdao, during which he will hold talks with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Seoul's foreign ministry said. Park is the first high-level official to travel to China since Yoon took office in May.
READ MORE: China, South Korea vow to expand cooperation
His trip comes after Beijing expressed outrage over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to China’s Taiwan region last week. Yoon, who was on vacation, did not meet with Pelosi but held a phone call with her. His office said the decision was made in consideration of national interests, and that there was no pressure from Beijing.
By actively promoting strategic high-level communication, we can have better understanding of each other, reduce unnecessary misunderstanding and expand common interests.
Park Jin, Foreign Minister, South Korea
Park has said his trip to China would be a chance to boost cooperation in areas including trade, health and environment.
"By actively promoting strategic high-level communication, we can have better understanding of each other, reduce unnecessary misunderstanding and expand common interests," he said at a news conference.
Park noted that when he met Wang at the G20 foreign ministers' meeting last month in Thailand, he said South Korea's strengthening US alliance and participation in a US-backed economic forum for Asia was not meant to "neglect or set aside" China ties.
Yoon vowed to purchase and deploy another THAAD US missile defense system, and abandon his predecessor's promise in 2017 to China of the so-called "Three Nos" – no additional THAAD deployments, no participation in a US-led global missile shield, and no creation of a trilateral military alliance involving Japan. China argues the system's powerful radar could peer into its airspace.
Beijing's foreign ministry has been calling for Seoul to keep the promise, but Park told a recent parliamentary questioning that the "Three Nos" are not an official pledge or agreement.
The Yonhap news agency reported on Monday that South Korea has decided to attend a preliminary meeting for a US-led chip alliance, dubbed "Chip 4," citing an unnamed senior presidential official.
Yoon said his government is looking into the issue in light of national interests, and the foreign ministry said no decision has been made.
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