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Moon to visit Chongqing for economic ties

Dec 12,2017
President Moon Jae-in will conclude his trip to China with a two-day visit to the southwestern city of Chongqing for both political and economic reasons.

According to the Blue House, Moon will visit Chongqing on Friday and Saturday. He will be the first Korean president to visit the city. Former President Park Geun-hye had visited Chongqing in 2005, when she was the chairwoman of the Grand National Party.

The visit is hoped to communicate to China Korea’s intention to restore economic ties. Chongqing is one of the largest cities in China, with about 32 million people, and is the hub of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s grand economic One Belt, One Road initiative.

Also known as the New Silk Road Project, the massive development program is intended to connect China to the world by building a network of new trade routes, high-speed railways to Europe and ports to reach Asia and Africa. Opening free trade zones is also a part of the initiative. Chongqing has been one of the most active cities to implement the initiative.

Moon will have a luncheon with Chen Min’er, the Communist Party secretary of Chongqing, on Saturday. A confidant of Xi, Chen is a rising political star. He used to work for Xi in Zhejiang Province, where Xi was then provincial party leader. Chen climbed rapidly through the party ranks as Xi took presidency and bolstered his power.

On the morning of Saturday, Moon will visit the site of Korea’s provisional government during Japan’s colonial rule. First established in Shanghai in 1919, the provisional government was moved to Chongqing in 1940. A memorial for the provisional government was built in 1995 and the city is currently carrying out a project to improve the conditions.

Moon’s visit is expected to highlight the history 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.

The visit to Chongqing is also intended to support Korean companies which suffered China’s unofficial economic sanctions over the past months. In protest of the U.S. deployment of an antimissile system in Korea, China had carried out economic retaliations against Korean businesses. The two countries recently agreed to mend the rupture, and expectations are high that Beijing will largely lift the unofficial sanctions in time with Moon’s visit.

Conglomerates such as Hyundai Motor and SK Hynix are operating factories in the industrial city. Moon will be accompanied by a large business delegation, fueling speculations that the visit to Chongqing will be used as an opportunity to restore economic cooperation with China and open up new markets for the Korean firms.

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