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Moon proposes new principles for Korea-China economic cooperation

All Headlines 18:03 December 13, 2017

By Byun Duk-kun

BEIJING, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday proposed three basic principles to ensure and enhance economic cooperation between his country and China, amid what many believe to be Beijing's continued retaliation against Seoul over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.

"I hope China and South Korea, as responsible countries of Northeast Asia, will join forces to face new changes and challenges," the president said. "To this end, the paradigm of economic cooperation between the two countries must be renewed."

The call came in a meeting with a group of top business leaders from both countries. Moon arrived here earlier in the day for a four-day state visit that will include a bilateral summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"Close exchange and cooperation between China and South Korea, in a sense, is only natural. They are not only the closest neighbors geographically, but share a long line of history and culture," Moon said.

He also noted the countries marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties this year. They must prepare for the next 25 years, he said.

"First, they need to strengthen the systematic foundation of economic cooperation. This is to ensure continuity and stability in economic cooperation by institutionalizing exchange and cooperation between the two countries," the president told the business forum.

Moon's trip follows months of soured relations due to the Chinese protest against the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system in South Korea.

The countries agreed to put their bilateral ties back on track in a joint statement issued Oct. 31, but many believe Beijing has yet to completely put the past behind it, as many of its economic retaliatory measures are still in place.

"I wish my state visit will help restore trust between the two countries and open a new era for the South Korea-China relationship," Moon said in an earlier meeting with a group of South Korean residents here.

Moon's three new principles of cooperation apparently seek to ensure continued exchange between the countries, even in the case of new challenges in the future.

The three new principles include enhancing future-oriented cooperation based on the countries' economic policies.

"This (principle) seeks to expand economic cooperation to new areas and industrial sectors the two countries wish to develop, and to create a mutually beneficial structure for cooperation by creating a complementary structure and jointly exploring new markets in third countries," the president said.

China is already South Korea's largest trading partner and the second-largest destination of South Korean investment.

The South Korean president said he and his Chinese counterpart were expected to sign an agreement on the start of negotiations to expand the countries' bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) to the service and investment sectors when they meet Thursday for their third bilateral summit.

"I expect (the agreement) will lead to an expansion of the countries' advance to each other's service markets and also promote cross-border investment," he said.

Seoul and Beijing signed a bilateral FTA on products in June 2015. The bilateral free trade pact went into effect later that year.

President Moon also stressed the importance of exchange between South Korea and China.

The last principle, he said, "seeks to make us true friends by expanding cultural exchange (between our nations) and exchange between our people," he said.

He also named eight areas with great potential for increased cooperation. They included the IT, energy and environment sectors, as well as joint efforts to win social infrastructure projects in third countries.

"If the two countries have built a waterway for friendship and cooperation over the past 25 years, the next 25 years is when they must sail the ship of co-prosperity. China's prosperity helps that of South Korea, and South Korea's prosperity helps that of China. The two countries share the same fate and must prosper together," he said.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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