ROK President Moon heads to Beijing seeking reconciliation

World Today

Beijing is gearing up for one of the year’s most anticipated state visits. ROK President Moon Jae-in arrives on Wednesday. Seoul hopes the visit will help normalize relations after a frosty period this year. CGTN’s Jack Barton has more on what’s on the agenda.

It’s the third time that President Moon and China’s leader Xi Jinping have met this year, the last being an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ meeting in Vietnam.

But they still have plenty to talk about. Their meeting follows the recent launch of a DPRK missile, which many experts said could reach the United States and could soon be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

“It is important for Korea and China to both agree how to solve the DPRK nuclear problem,” said Woo Jung-yeop, a research fellow at the Sejong Institute. “The second issue is about the deployment of the THAAD in the Korean peninsula.”

The deployment of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile system earlier this year provoked an economic backlash from Beijing, where there is concern about the range of the system’s radar.

China is South Korea’s biggest trading partner, so the retaliation hit hard.

“The tourism industry is suffering a lot, and the related industry of retail and also the automobile industry. Hyundai motors is suffering a lot still in China, so the damage is huge,” Lee Byungtae, a professor at Kaist Business College explained.

It’s not just China’s president who has had concerns about THAAD; President Moon also voiced skepticism about the THAAD system before becoming president. However, analysts said that widespread public support and ongoing missile tests by the DPRK have made it all but impossible for the president to roll back the deployment.

Since October, relations have begun to improve. Seoul has pledged to not expand THAAD, and Chinese tour operators and companies are relaxing measures—including a ban on group tours to South Korea. But most analysts said a permanent solution to economic issues will rely on a permanent solution to denuclearizing the DPRK.

President Moon will remain in China through Saturday.