Thursday February 27, 2020


June 28, 2013


On Thursday, Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye arrived in China for a four-day official visit. This is President Park’s second foreign trip since taking office, following a visit to the United States in May.

Reception in China

Chinese state media has been praising Park’s visit to China and emphasizing its importance. A government spokesperson said, “We expect her visit to our country will play an important role in enhancing bilateral strategic trust, chartering directions for future development of our relations and promoting exchange and cooperation between us in all fields.”

The significance of the trip is not the only thing that gained China’s attention. President Park, herself, has become a constant subject of Chinese new articles. Her family, personal history and accomplishments have all been up for discussion. The Chinese media seems to adore her. For example, one headline read, “China Hand Park Geun-hye: Having read lot of ancient Chinese texts, can sing Sweet Chinese love songs.”

Park’s love for Chinese culture and ability to speak Chinese are lauded in the news. The new South Korean President is even giving a portion of one of her speeches in Mandarin, only adding to the adoration.

Meetings and Goals

In an interview with China Daily before leaving for China, President Park described her goals for the trip. She said, “We will have in-depth discussions about how to give concrete substance to the (South) Korea-China strategic cooperative partnership, how to work together for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, and how to promote bilateral cooperation on the international stage.”

She also reflected on the development of relations between Seoul and Beijing, saying, “Over the past 20 years, (South) Korea-China relations have made remarkable progress. Now is the time for our two countries to elevate the bilateral relationship to a new height.” Park looked forward to improving relations in the region, despite difficulties, with “a dream of ushering in a new era on the Korean Peninsula by building a regime of sustainable peace on it.”

Park’s trip to China will have a heavy focus on cultural and economic ties between the two countries. President Park brought a 71-person business delegation with her from South Korea and a Free Trade Agreement is a top priority for meetings with President Xi. Soft power relations and cultural links are also being highlighted.

On Thursday, Presidents Xi and Park met for talks about North Korea’s nuclear program. The two leaders have already given a joint statement emphasizing the importance of renewing Six Party Talks and carrying out UN sanctions against North Korea.

Implications of Park’s Visit

The first day of meetings has already seen North Korea’s rival and its ally publicly agreeing on the need to denuclearize North Korea and work together for peace and stability in the region. This is one of many signs indicating how unprecedented and important this trip is.

China has remained a strong ally to North Korea and South Korea has joined with the United States and Japan as allies in the region. In fact, China only established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea in 1992.

Relations between South Korea and China have been steadily improving since 1992, especially economically. China is now the Republic of China’s biggest trading partner.

As evidenced by the sizeable business delegation, economic relations are still a priority, but it is no longer the only one. Park and Xi are both aiming to increase strategic ties and improve stability in the region.

The timing is right for an upgrade in South Korea-China relations. China has become increasing frustrated with North Korea, likely making it more willing to re-think the balance of its relations with the Korean Peninsula. South Korea’s new president has a greater affinity for China than her predecessors did. Her eagerness to improve ties with China is highlighted by her unprecedented decision to visit China before visiting long-time ally Japan.

President Xi and President Park are both new leaders. This provides a good opportunity for their two countries to try to revitalize their relationship and create stronger ties, one they have both decided to develop.

For more information about ROK President’s visit to China, see the following news articles:

People’s Daily– “Park sees blueprint for ties

Global Post-S. Korea’s Park meets China’s Xi at Beijing summit

Reuters- S.Korea’s Park, China’s Xi agree on denuclearising N.Korea – Blue House

The Washington Times-Inside China: Park Geun-hye fever sweeps China

Voice of America-South Korea’s Park in Beijing for Summit with Xi

BBC-China media: ‘Extraordinary welcome’ to Park

Xinhua-“Xi, Park continue to discuss major issues

The New York Times-China and South Korea Reaffirm Efforts Aimed at North

For Chinese language news on the visit to China, see the articles below:

China News Agency (中国新闻网)– “李克强晤朴槿惠:中方坚决维护朝鲜半岛和平稳定


World Journal (世界新闻网)– “朴槿惠秀中文:先做朋友 后做生意

Xinhua (新华新闻)- 习近平会见韩国总统朴槿惠

Ifeng (凤凰卫视)-习近平再与朴槿惠会面 称其有很多中国粉丝

People’s Daily (人民网)– “韩媒:习近平赠朴槿惠书法作品唐诗《登鹳雀楼》

Duo Wei News (多维新闻)-朴槿惠换艳服会习近平

Compiled and edited by Ariane Rosen