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[Editorial] `Strategic Partnership` Begins with Mutual Trust

[Editorial] `Strategic Partnership` Begins with Mutual Trust

Posted August. 26, 2008 08:13,   


President Lee Myung-bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao held their third summit yesterday at the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul. This is the second official visit to Seoul by Hu since he took office. What is more interesting is that the two leaders have held three summits within three months. This unprecedented event is evidence that they recognize how important they are to each other.

In this summit, the two leaders agreed on 34 projects to strengthen their "mutual strategic cooperative relationship." By agreeing to expand their relations to politics and security as well as the economy, culture, and human exchanges, they aim at significantly upgrading bilateral ties and increasing cooperation. Promoting high-level diplomatic talks this year and stepping up military cooperation are also crucial in building mutual trust. The Lee administration should strive to produce tangible results from these agreements and projects.

No matter how bright the prospects are in the relationship, it is nothing but a castle in the air without mutual trust and confidence. Though it seems just a trivial matter, anti-Korean sentiment that erupted in the Beijing Olympics could hamper mutual trust. A slew of problems are in the way to this goal, including the dispute over Ieodo, an underwater reef south of Jeju Island; China’s history distortion of Goguryeo and Balhae; China`s deportation of North Korean escapees; and illegal Chinese fishing in the southern Yellow Sea. These should be settled through open-hearted and sincere attitudes from the both countries. We hope for Beijing’s reasonable and prudent approach toward these issues.

Following three decades of massive reform, China displayed its potential to emerge as a global power through its successful hosting of the Beijing Olympics. We hope the Chinese government tries to match its global status to paying more attention to human rights and regional security. As part of these efforts, China should play a constructive role for the denuclearization and openness of North Korea. Furthermore, it should also actively help set up peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia based on friendly relations with South Korea and Japan.

Maintaining a strategic partnership with Beijing and a strong alliance with Washington is far from easy. The two interests, however, do not necessarily conflict each other. Seoul can develop them in complementary cooperation. In other words, the government should focus on maintaining the Korea-U.S. alliance but also build bilateral trust with Beijing as well as with Washington. The visit by Chinese President Hu makes us consider what practical diplomacy is.