THAAD, nukes thought to be key topics of talks between leaders
President Xi Jinping and the Republic of Korea"s new president, Moon Jae-in, talked about Beijing"s "major concerns" and agreed in their first phone conversation on Thursday to meet at an early date, sending positive signals for the bilateral ties.
Xi said it is hoped that the new ROK government will attach great importance to the relevant major concerns of China and take tangible actions to push for the healthy, stable development of bilateral ties.
Moon said he fully understands China"s major concerns, according to a news release from China"s Foreign Ministry.
Although the release did not elaborate on China"s major concerns, observers noted that the call was made since Washington and Seoul have deployed the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense antimissile system in the ROK, a move that has angered Beijing and chilled China-ROK ties.
Moon said the new ROK government will communicate with China over this and work hard to seek a proper solution.
Xinhua quoted an ROK senior presidential press secretary as saying Moon will send special envoys to Beijing to discuss issues concerning THAAD and Pyongyang"s nuclear program. He will dispatch separate delegations to discuss the two issues with their Chinese counterparts, the report said.
The leaders will keep in contact and meet at an early date.
The conversation was held a day after Xi sent a message congratulating Moon on his landslide election victory.
Zhang Liangui, an expert in Korean studies at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said the inauguration of a new ROK president "offers a good chance for the China-ROK ties to improve, and the talk on Thursday enhanced the chances of such a trend".
"There is a shared wish on both sides for some new changes over the ties, as the chilly relations have affected many fronts of bilateral exchanges, such as trade," Zhang said.
Zhang said Moon"s latest comments indicated possible damage control for THAAD, and the proposed talk with Beijing on THAAD itself "is already very valuable, as there has been scant official bilateral discussion on THAAD".
Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the THAAD deployment is undermining policy coordination between China and the ROK on global and regional issues.
"The impact on the economic front may eventually offset the great benefits that the two sides had once harvested," Ruan said.
On the Korean Peninsula situation, Xi reiterated Beijing"s position regarding nuclear weapons, saying China will work with all parties, including the ROK, to continue working for peace.
Moon said Seoul is ready to work with Beijing to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula by resuming the Six-Party Talks.