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Korean Military Aid Flights Land in China

Posted May. 31, 2008 03:15,   


On the last leg of his four-day state visit to China, President Lee Myung-bak visited the earthquake-devastated Sichuan province yesterday.

The president arrived at the Chengdu airport in Sichuan Province yesterday and encouraged Korean soldiers including Col. Ryu Bo-young, in charge of transportation, who brought 350-millio-won worth emergency aid goods. Lee said, “China’s acceptance of our military cargo planes reflects our relationship as a strategic partnership.”

In particular, President Lee pointed to three military freighters sitting on the tarmac and said, “As far as I know, a Korean military plane has never entered China before. Though it is on the humanitarian ground, this has historical significance.”

“The Korean forces came to Sichuan for the first time in history,” Lee said. “As China is the closest country to Korea and a good neighbor, we came here to help China both at good or bad times.”

President Lee headed for quake-hit Dujiangyan, an hour away from the airport, on a minibus and encouraged Chinese officials making restoration efforts as well as dislocated people in shelters. Around 3,000 people died in the region, which is close to the epicenter of Wenchuan.

President Lee was accompanied by Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, Knowledge Economy Minister Lee Youn-ho, Senior Secretary to the President for Foreign Affairs and National Security Kim Byung-kook, presidential spokesperson Lee Dong-kwan, Presidential Chief of Security Kim In-chong, Ambassador to China Shin Jung-seung, protocol officer Park Seok-hwan, Presidential Secretary for Protocol Kim Chang-beom and Joint Chief of Staff officer Chang Gwang-il. First lady Kim Yoon-ok did not visit Sichuan Province due to other schedules and returned to Korea separately.

Korean businessmen and expats living in China welcomed President Lee’s visit to the disaster region hoping that his visit would help improve Korea’s image.

A businessman living in Qingdao said, “There were concerns about the spread of the anti-Korean movement due to strengthening the Korea-U.S. alliance and extreme commercialization of the Korean Wave. President Lee’s visit will help improve Chinese perception of Koreans.”

The private sector is also chipping in. SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won also made rescue efforts in Sichuan Province.

Samsung Electronics China sent its executives to the affected area earlier this week and will send some 2,000 employees more next week to help reconstruction efforts

President Lee also visited the production line of Haier, a Chinese home appliance maker, in Qingdao and asked for setting a standard in the cutting-edge technologies and robust industrial cooperation such as outsourcing between parts makers in two countries. He visited the factory of Youngwon Trade, a Korean firm operating in China, to encourage employees.