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Moon’s state visit to China is next week

Schedule includes trip to industrial, historical city of Chongqing
Dec 07,2017
President Moon Jae-in will visit China next week for a state visit, including a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Blue House said Wednesday.

“President Moon will make a state visit to China from Dec. 13 to 16 at the invitation of Chinese President Xi,” Blue House spokesman Park Soo-hyun said. During the trip, Moon will have a summit with Xi in Beijing, attend a state dinner and meet with other Chinese leaders. It will be Moon’s first presidential visit to China since he took office in May.

“During the summit, Moon and Xi will evaluate the development of the two countries’ 25-year-old relationship and discuss a plan to further advance the bilateral ties,” Park said. “Moon will also discuss various issues of mutual interest, particularly cooperative measures for the peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis.”

It will be Moon’s third summit with Xi. While the previous two meetings took place in July and November on the sidelines of multilateral conferences, the upcoming summit is expected to include a series of events including a welcome ceremony and longer dialogues. It is assumed that Moon will meet Xi on Dec. 14.

The summit will take place amid escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile on Nov. 29, claiming that it has mastered the capability to reach all areas in the U.S. mainland.

The upcoming summit will be a chance for Seoul and Beijing to restore frayed ties. Bilateral relations deteriorated rapidly over the past year as Beijing lashed out at Seoul for its decision to deploy the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system to deter the North’s nuclear and missile threats. Since the deployment in April, China carried out significant economic retaliation.

In October, the two governments agreed to repair the relations. Last week, China partially lifted a ban on group tours to Korea, the first official sign of Beijing reversing unofficial economic sanctions.

According to the Blue House, Moon will also travel to China’s southwestern city of Chongqing from Dec. 15 to 16. The industrial city is a hub of Xi’s One Belt One Road project and a key for China’s Great Western Development Strategy. Korean companies including Hyundai Motor and SK Hynix operate factories there.

Including Chongqing on the itinerary is seen as a political gesture to please Xi. It isn’t known if Xi will accompany Moon to Chongqing.

Chongqing is also where Korea operated a provisional government from 1940 to 1945 during Japan’s colonial rule.

Japan may react sensitively to the travel plan, as the city is a symbol of the Korea-China alliance during Japan’s military aggression. While it was located in Chongqing, the provisional government celebrated the liberation of Korea in 1945.

Park also said Seoul and Beijing will give more detailed briefings on Monday about Moon’s trip.

“We hope this visit will become an opportunity for the two presidents to deepen their friendship and trust and bilateral exchanges will be normalized as soon as possible based on them,” Park said. “We anticipate the upcoming state visit to serve as an opportunity for the 25-year-old Korea-China relationship to establish a new beginning for another 25 years.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]