SKorea Summons China Envoy for Comments06/09 06:12
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea's Foreign Ministry summoned China's
ambassador on Friday to protest comments he made accusing Seoul of tilting
toward the United States and away from China, as competition between Washington
and Beijing for global influence intensifies.
South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Chang Ho-jin warned Chinese
Ambassador Xing Haiming over his "senseless and provocative" remarks made
during a meeting with a South Korean opposition leader.
The ministry accused Xing of violating diplomatic protocols and interfering
with South Korean domestic politics but didn't specify the parts of Xing's
comments it saw as inappropriate. The ministry also didn't share what Xing said
in reply to Chang.
In a meeting Thursday with South Korean Democratic Party leader Lee
Jae-myung, a key rival of conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol, Xing accused
Yoon's government of leaning excessively toward Seoul's treaty ally, the United
States, and damaging its relations with China, its biggest trading partner.
Xing said South Korea was entirely to blame for the "many difficulties" in
bilateral relations, citing its growing trade deficit with China which he
attributed to "de-Chinaization" efforts, apparently referring to actions by
South Korean companies to shift their supply chains away from China. He
demanded that Seoul respect Beijing's core interests including Taiwan and other
major regional issues.
"With the United States pressuring China with all its might, some are
betting that the United States will win and China will lose. But this is
clearly the wrong judgment," Xing said, describing a rosy future for his
country under authoritarian leader Xi Jingping. "What can be said with
certainty is that those who bet on China's defeat will surely regret it later,"
South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Xing's "irresponsible" comments
countered "the desire of both countries' governments and people to value and
further advance South Korea-China relations based on mutual respect."
South Korea, whose economy depends greatly on exports of computer memory
chips and other technology products, has struggled to strike a balance between
the United States, its decades-long military ally, and China, the biggest buyer
of its goods as the rivalry between Washington and Beijing deepens over
regional influence and technology.
Faced with a growing nuclear threat from North Korea, Yoon has pushed
aggressively to strengthen the alliance with the United States, making it a
central goal of his policies.
Seoul has expanded joint military training with the United States and is
seeking stronger assurances that it would swiftly and decisively use its
nuclear weapons to defend South Korea in the event of a North Korean nuclear
The Biden administration in turn has been seeking stronger three-way
cooperation with South Korea and Japan to counter both the North Korean threat
and China's increasingly assertive foreign policy.