North Korea

Xi Jinping backs Seoul’s efforts to restart talks with North Korea

Chinese president and South Korean counterpart discuss stronger pressure over ‘unforgivable’ missile test

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 11:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 11:20pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, agreed at a summit meeting on Thursday that North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test was “unforgivable”, South Korean media reported.

The leaders also discussed stronger sanctions and pressure against Pyongyang in Berlin ahead of a G20 summit in Hamburg that begins on Friday, Yonhap reported.

Dialogue is the only way to rein in North Korea

Xi told Moon that China supported the new South Korean government’s ­efforts to restart dialogue and contacts with North Korea, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

But Xi called on Moon to clear impediments in bilateral relations, a reference to China’s opposition to a sophisticated US anti-missile system deployed in South Korea.

Meeting Moon for the first time, Xi said Beijing hoped Seoul “can attend to China’s major concerns and handle relevant issues properly so as to clear the obstacles for the development of bilateral ties”.

“For a period of time, China-South Korea relations have been facing difficulties, and we do not want to see that,” he was quoted as saying.

It was the common responsibility of the two sides to maintain and develop ties, he said.

Since Moon came to power on May 10, China has said it is willing to put relations back on “a normal track” if his government deals with Beijing’s concerns over South Korea’s hosting of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence anti-missile system, or THAAD.

Hand-wringing over North Korea only benefits Kim Jong-un

China has strongly pressed for South Korea to scrap the deployment, believing the system’s advanced radar would improve the US military’s ability to spy on its territory.

Official exchanges between the two sides have been affected by the deployment, while South Korean businesses on the mainland, especially retailers, have also taken a blow.

South Korea and the United States have insisted the shield is designed solely to shoot down missiles from the North.

Moon, a liberal former human rights lawyer, favours a softer approach towards North Korea than his conservative predecessors, and has indicated the possibility of reviewing the decision to deploy the shield.

Reuters, Associated Press and Kyodo