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(2nd LD) Top Chinese official vows Bejing's 'constructive' role on bid for end-of-war declaration: Seoul official

All News 23:41 December 03, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details about Taiwan issue last 5 paras)

TIANJIN, China, Dec. 3 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- A top Chinese official in charge of foreign affairs said Beijing supports Seoul's push for the declaration of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, Cheong Wa Dae said Friday.

Yang Jiechi, a member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, delivered the message during a meeting with Suh Hoon, director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae who serves as President Moon Jae-in's national security adviser, in China's eastern city of Tianjin the previous day, according to the presidential national security office.

Yang was quoted as saying, "(We) support the push for the end-of-war declaration and believe that the end-of-war declaration will contribute to promoting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula."

A senior South Korean government official also said later Yang reaffirmed Beijing's "intent" on playing a "constructive role" in relevant consultations. China is a signatory to the Armistice Agreement that effectively brought an end to the war. It fought alongside North Korea against South Korea and the U.S.-led U.N. troops during the three-year conflict.

In September, Moon proposed in his U.N. speech that "three parties of the two Koreas and the US, or four parties of the two Koreas, the US and China come together and declare that the War on the Korean Peninsula is over."

He stressed the declaration, if issued, will mark a "pivotal point of departure in creating a new order of 'reconciliation and cooperation' on the Korean Peninsula."

During his latest meeting with Yang, Suh briefed him on the purpose of the end-of-war declaration initiative and relevant situations so far, if not about a draft text, according to the government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"It is not a stage yet to discuss wording (in the envisioned declaration)," the official added.

On the long-delayed South Korea visit by President Xi Jinping, the official said both Seoul and Beijing agree on the need to continue summit-level communication, with the possibility open of holding telephone talks or other types of non-face-to-face dialogue any time.

Moon's office has repeatedly stated the neighboring countries will seek Xi's visit to South Korea as soon as the situations related to the COVID-19 pandemic are "stabilized." Some observers say Moon and Xi may have a virtual summit session ahead of the opening of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in February next year.

Moon visited China in 2017 and 2019, but Xi's agreed-upon reciprocal trip has been postponed due to the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, during the meeting, Yang expressed "grave concerns" that the Taiwan Strait was mentioned for the first time in a joint statement issued after South Korea and the United States held defense chief talks, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

In the allies' annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) joint statement, Defense Minister Suh Wook and his U.S. counterpart, Lloyd Austin, acknowledged the importance of preserving peace and security in the Taiwan Strait.

Yang discussed the issue during his meeting with Suh on Thursday and voiced grave concerns about it, the Chinese foreign ministry said in response to Yonhap News Agency's written questions. China stressed the Taiwan issue is China's internal affairs.

Analysts said the mentioning of the sensitive Taiwan issue in the SCM signaled the expanding scope of the bilateral alliance to cover security far beyond the Korean Peninsula.

The Taiwan Strait was also mentioned in the joint statement issued at the close of the summit between Presidents Moon and Joe Biden in May.


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