Li Zhanshu, the chairman of China's National People's Congress, met with South Korea’s National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang on Tuesday in Beijing and pressured the South Korean government to state its position on the issue of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THADD). Speaker Moon, the second in line after President Moon Jae-in, asked for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping but the request was declined against practice, causing a controversy over China’s disrespect for South Korea.
During a meeting with South Korean correspondents in Beijing on Wednesday, National Assembly Speaker Moon said, “Chairman Li clearly mentioned the issue of THAAD, reading from (a prepared) memo.” Rep. Kim Jin-pyo of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, who was in attendance at the meeting, also said, “Chairman Li said he wanted the South Korean government to clarify its position on THAAD.” Moon added that he responded by saying he hoped China to do its part to expedite denuclearization since the issue of THAAD would naturally be resolved once the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized. Unlike the South Korean government, which said the issue of THAAD has been resolved, China has kept saying that the THAAD issue has not been resolved and it should ultimately be removed from South Korea.
Speaker Moon said he would like to ask President Xi Jinping to visit both Koreas and play the role of facilitator in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. But China did not confirm whether President Xi Jinping would make a visit to South Korea or not.
Speaker Moon could not meet with President Xi Jinping during his three-day visit to China. Previously National Assembly Speakers Kang Chang-hee and Chung Ui-hwa met with President Xi Jinping in their China visits in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
“It is because China’s diplomatic system and policy have been changed,” Speaker Moon explained of the failed meeting with the Chinese President. According to him, the two sides agreed to skip the formality of having a 30-minute meeting with President Xi Jinping and instead go straight to having a meeting between counterparts. But unlike China’s explanation, President Xi Jinping personally met with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in December last year, when he visited China to meet with his counterpart Wang Yi.
Wan-Jun Yun firstname.lastname@example.org