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(2nd LD) Wang says his visit amid pandemic shows importance China places on relations with S. Korea

All News 11:52 November 26, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS paras 6-7)
By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 26 (Yonhap) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday that his visit to Seoul in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic shows how much importance Beijing attaches to relations with South Korea.

Wang made the remark at the start of talks with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, stressing that relations between the two countries are "showing robustness and the appearance of greater vitality" as they have endured the pandemic.

Wang arrived in Seoul on Wednesday for a three-day trip amid expectations that he would use the trip to try to bring Seoul to its side as U.S. President-elect Joe Biden envisions tightening America's alliance networks to reassert its leadership amid heightened Sino-U.S. rivalry.

"My visit to South Korea when the COVID-19 situation has yet to end is intended to show the importance we attach to China-South Korea relations through actual action and to show confidence that South Korea can prevail in its fight over COVID-19," Wang said.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (R) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi bump elbows before their talks at the foreign ministry in Seoul on Nov. 26, 2020. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Wang also appreciated South Korea's support for Chinese people when China was in the thick of the pandemic, stressing that the pandemic did not "win over the peoples of the two countries."

"Having endured the ordeal of COVID-19, the bilateral relations are now showing robustness and the appearance of greater vitality," he added.

Wang also pointed out that South Korea and China are working together to "contribute to safeguarding regional peace and stability, promoting regional economic integration and complementing the global governance system." He did not elaborate further.

Kang said that Wang's visit shows close cooperation between the foreign ministries of the two countries.

"Ahead of the 30th anniversary in 2022 of the establishment of bilateral ties, I hope for an exchange of opinions on further fleshing out the strategic partnership between the two countries," Kang said.

Their agenda was expected to include the countries' efforts to arrange a visit to South Korea by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Seoul's push to host a trilateral summit among the leaders of South Korea, China and Japan before the end of this year.

Chinese officials have said that Xi's trip to Seoul will come when the COVID-19 pandemic levels off, but a third wave of the virus outbreak has darkened the prospects of Xi making an early trip here.

Kang and Wang could also exchange views on North Korea-related issues, economic cooperation and joint efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a luncheon with Kang, Wang is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on President Moon Jae-in at the presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae.

Wang is also expected to meet other government and ruling party officials, including former Democratic Party chief Lee Hae-chan, presidential security adviser Moon Chung-in and Rep. Song Young-gil, chairman of the National Assembly's foreign affairs committee.

Wang last visited Seoul in December last year.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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