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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Dec. 13)

All Headlines 07:02 December 13, 2017

Moon's first China visit
Summit unlikely to narrow differences

President Moon Jae-in will visit China for the first time today since taking office in May.

At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Moon will pay a state visit to the country until Saturday. The President will hold a summit with the Chinese leader Thursday and also visit Chongqing, one of the Chinese cities that had hosted Korea's provisional government during the 1910-45 Japanese occupation of Korea. Moon will also meet Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to discuss ways to boost economic ties.

The two countries announced a bilateral agreement in October to start mending the strained bilateral ties over differences on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) on Korean soil. China has claimed Korea's decision to host the THAAD battery undermined its national security and has strongly protested the decision. Since then, Korea's retail, travel and entertainment industries have suffered retaliatory measures imposed by China.

Moon's visit is meaningful in that it is taking place as the two countries celebrate the historic establishment of diplomatic relations 25 years ago. "The two leaders will evaluate the 25 years of diplomatic relations and discuss ways to boost political and economic cooperation and cultural and human exchanges," said Nam Gwan-pyo, deputy head of the National Security Office.

It is worrisome that the third Moon-Xi meeting will not be any more fruitful than the previous ones in July and November. Although a state visit is considered the expression of friendly bilateral relations, the two countries are still on different pages on the THAAD issue even after the Oct. 31 agreement to move relations forward in various sectors.

Cheong Wa Dae said Monday that there will be no joint statement after the Korea-China summit in Beijing or hold a press conference afterwards. Instead the two leaders will only issue a press announcement that will contain their respective stances. It is unclear what Korea can gain from such a summit.

Despite the Oct. 31 agreement, China has continued to pressure Korea to take more steps to ensure security from the anti-missile system. It has demanded Seoul confirm it will not place additional THAAD batteries, not join a U.S.-led broader missile defense system, and not form a Korea-U.S.-Japan military alliance.

China is in no position to push a sovereign country to change its national security decisions to better serve its own interest. The fundamental step to improving ties is for China to stop infringing on our sovereignty.
(END)

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