China's rising power is felt everywhere in the world these days. But the phenomenon is perhaps more apparent in South Korea than anywhere else. In political, economic, social and cultural arenas, China is fast increasing its influence in South Korea. China is also replacing the US and other traditional friends of South Korea as the country's most important trade and security partner. The latest example of this trend is the possible takeover of South Korea's Sangyong Motor by China's petrochemicals giant Nanxing Group. The Chinese company was chosen this week as a preferred bidder for the troubled carmaker, by its creditors. Nanxing defeated such global giants as General Motors and Renault in the competition, surprising many analysts. The possible Chinese investment of US$1 billion comes on top of fast-growing commercial ties between the two countries. China is already South Korea's biggest investment destination. Many South Korean companies have set up factories in the mainland to take advantage of China's vast markets and cheap labour. This year, China replaced the US as South Korea's largest overseas market. China is also becoming South Korea's major security partner. In resolving the controversial issue of North Korea's nuclear programme, China has played a key role by brokering six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the US, Japan, Russia and China. While Pyongang and Washington remain widely apart on how to solve the issue, Beijing works hard to bridge the gap as a mediator. It is not too surprising that China is sometimes seen as more trustworthy than the US, in the eyes of many South Koreans. In social and cultural fields, the two former enemies are becoming intimate friends. Millions of people make cross-border visits every year, and the number of students they exchange is growing rapidly. South Korea's movies, songs and television programmes are becoming highly popular in China as well as in other Asian nations. Chinese call this pop culture hanliu, or 'Korea fad'. Chinese has passed Japanese as the most popular foreign language to study in South Korea, after English. Friendship between nations is a noble goal in this era of international conflicts and tensions. The rapprochement between the two bitter foes of the Korean war is particularly desirable in that sense. One can only hope that Beijing's decades-long alliance with Pyongyang does not get in the way of further improvement of relations between Seoul and Beijing.