BEIJING (AP) — The top South Korean and Chinese diplomats pledged Thursday to develop closer relations and maintain stable industrial supply chains at a time of deepening rivalry between Beijing and Washington.
South Korea, a longtime U.S. ally, is struggling to strike a balance between Washington and the increasingly assertive foreign policy of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government. U.S.-Chinese conflict over Taiwan has added to complications for governments that want amicable ties with both sides.
Foreign Ministers Park Jin and Wang Yi, in separate statements, called for the development of relations based on successful three-decade-old commercial ties. They were meeting in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao.
Park and Wang gave no indication they discussed tensions over last week's visit by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the U.S. House of Representatives to self-ruled Taiwan, which the mainland's ruling Communist Party claims as its own territory. Beijing retaliated by conducting military drills to intimidate the island and called off dialogue with Washington on climate change and other issues.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in March, wants to improve security ties with Washington and Japan in response to North Korean nuclear threats. China, North Korea’s main ally, sees Japan as a strategic rival but also is South Korea’s biggest export market.
Pelosi visited South Korea last week, but Yoon, who was on vacation, talked to her by phone instead of face to face. His critics accused him of avoiding seeing her to protect relations with China.
Park and Wang called for maintaining stable industry supply chains, a possible reference to fears that Chinese technology policy and U.S. security controls might split the world into separate markets with incompatible standards and products, slowing innovation and raising costs.
Park expressed hope the two sides will increase cooperation based on “universal values and standards.” He said they should overcome new challenges posed by a “great transition in international society” but gave no details.
Park appealed to Beijing to help persuade North Korea to return to talks on its nuclear weapons program, which he called an “unprecedented threat” to peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Wang’s statement didn’t mention the nuclear issue and gave no indication whether he said what Beijing might do. The South Korean Foreign Ministry declined to say what Wang told Park.
Park also expressed hope that Xi, the Chinese leader, would visit South Korea.