South Korea rebukes Chinese envoy for warning on US relations

(Bloomberg) – South Korea has summoned the Chinese ambassador to express concern over the envoy’s warning that Seoul’s embrace of pro-US policies could harm it.

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First Vice Foreign Minister Chang Ho-jin issued a stern warning to Chinese Ambassador Xing Haiming during a meeting on Friday over what Seoul considered “provocative” remarks, the ministry said in a statement. . Chang called Xing’s language unacceptable and interference in South Korea’s domestic politics.

Xing said in a Thursday night meeting with South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung that he would be grateful if Seoul freed itself from external factors when dealing with China and the country had a lot to do. gain economically through friendly relations with Beijing. The comments were likely aimed at deepening economic and security ties between Seoul and Washington that pose challenges for Beijing.

“In a situation where the United States is pressuring China with all its might, some are betting that the United States will win and China will lose,” Xing said in a video clip shared by a main party’s YouTube channel. opposition, the Democratic Party. “But that judgment is clearly flawed and a failure to properly assess the flow of the story.”

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has tried to distinguish between the United States, his country’s main security ally, and China, its main trading partner. He showed support for the Biden administration’s calls to restructure global supply chains to reduce reliance on China, drawing criticism from Beijing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Yoon late last year and called for strengthening cooperation in high-tech manufacturing and working together to uphold a global free trade system that keeps supply chains safe. supply.

The remarks were likely aimed at the pressure the US has exerted on its security partners, including South Korea, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Japan, to comply with its sweeping restrictions on the sale of chips. and advanced chip manufacturing equipment to China, where major South Korean semiconductor manufacturers such as SK Hynix Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. and have facilities.

“China will continue to seek various measures to help Korean companies investing in China continue to grow,” Xing said at his meeting.

The envoy also advised South Korea to tread carefully on Taiwan, the self-governing island that the Chinese Communist Party has pledged to bring under its control one day, by force if necessary.

“The Taiwan issue is at the heart of China, and it is the foundation of China-South Korea relations. So there was a solemn promise made by South Korea to China when we established diplomatic relations,” Xing said, referring to the establishment of formal ties between Seoul and Beijing some three decades ago.

Read: Six takeaways from visiting the White House by South Korea’s Yoon

During an April meeting with Biden in Washington, Yoon made South Korea’s strongest statement to date on the Taiwan Strait expressing strong opposition to any unilateral action in the region.

Yoon, a security hawk, has stepped up military cooperation with the United States since taking office just over a year ago and has pledged to take a hard line on China. . Foreign Minister Park Jin called on Russia and China, North Korea’s main benefactor, to play a more constructive role in the United Nations Security Council, which he said became “virtually paralyzed” when it is a question of curbing the atomic ambitions of Pyongyang.

Park said in an exclusive interview with Yonhap News that Seoul would use its status as a newly elected non-permanent member of the council to push the two powers. China and Russia have used their veto power in the council to prevent further sanctions against Kim Jong Un for ballistic missile tests that violate previous resolutions.

The Chinese envoy also mentioned regional issues during his talks with the South Korean lawmaker, saying he was opposed to Japan’s plans to discharge treated wastewater from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant, crippled by the tsunami. The case raised concerns in South Korea, and Yoon sent a delegation of experts last month to gather information.

“It looks like Japan is using the Pacific Ocean as a sewer for its economic gain,” Xing said. “It’s extremely irresponsible.”

–With the help of Sangmi Cha.

(Updates and revamps with South Korea’s summoning envoy.)

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