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China – South Korea bilateral summit held in Seoul

Jul 4, 2014 17:46 IST

China – South Korea bilateral summit was held in Seoul on 3 July 2014. The summit was held between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It was held during the Chinese President Xi’s first visit to South Korea since he became the President in 2013.

During the summit, both the Presidents agreed to push for the denuclearization of North Korea and issued a Joint Statement.

The Main Highlights of the Joint Statement

  • Two countries agreed for denuclearizing and maintaining peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.
  • Both the countries also called on all relevant parties to solve major issue through dialogue and negotiation
  • The two countries also called on relevant parties to unremittingly promote the process of the six-party talks which was suspended in 2008.
  • They also called on all parties to respect one another, strengthen communication and coordination on both bilateral and multilateral levels, and address the concerns of all parties involved, to achieve the goal.
  • The Joint Statement also stressed on building mutual trust with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) through the Korean Peninsula trust-building process. This will boost the development of South Korea-DPRK relations and safeguard peace of the peninsula.

Other Highlights of Joint statement

  • Regular exchange of security officials
  • Finalizing Korea-China maritime boundaries by 2015
  • Signing a contract on the joint production of films
  • Finalizing an FTA within the year
  • Setting up a direct won-yuan trading market

Analysis

The issue of Joint Statement by China and South Korea on denuclearisation of North Korea has put an symbolic weight to the issue. However, it fell short on how they would pursue that goal mainly on account of difference in both the countries approach towards the issue.

On the one hand, South Korea wants to use “all means" possible approach to bring denuclearisation. On the other hand, China stressed "dialogue and negotiation" approach.

Besides, Xi's decision to visit South Korea before North Korea is seen as a calculated rebuff that spoke of the strained relationship between North Korea and its historic and most important ally China.

Also, China is being pressured by international community to use its leverage to rein in North Korea's nuclear ambitions. However, China remains wary of penalising the N Korea too heavily. This is because any regime collapse in N Korea would result in a unified Korea with a US troop presence on its border.

The larger issue which seems to flow from Xi's first visit to S Korea is the China's response to the US "pivot to Asia" and the battle between the two major powers for regional influence. China is currently South Korea's largest export market and two-way trade stood at around 275 billion US dollars in 2013.

However, China wants to move beyond economic ties and promote political and security links. This leaves Seoul with a difficult balancing act, given its historic military alliance with the United States.

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