Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming said on Wednesday that it would have been better if the issue of the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea had not been mentioned in a joint press statement issued by the leaders of South Korea and the U.S. following their summit. The ambassador took issue with Taiwan being mentioned in the South Korea-U.S. joint statement while the South Korea government has attempted to ease China’s discomfort by saying a mention of Taiwan in the joint statement was theoretical and principled. Ambassador Xing asked for a balanced diplomacy between the U.S. and China, saying he hopes that other nations including South Korea play a role in reconciling the U.S. and China.
Talking to an MBC program on Wednesday, Ambassador Xing said while he appreciates Seoul’s efforts to not directly mention “China” in the joint statement, some part of it appears to be targeted at Beijing. He went on to say that Seoul recognized Taiwan as part of China when it established diplomatic relations with Beijing and he thinks the issue of the South China Sea can be addressed in cooperation with neighboring countries.
As for the mention of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) in the joint statement, Ambassador Xing said China has a different idea about the global order shaped by one country or a few countries, adding the U.S. has a tendency to form groups to besiege China and it would be highly appreciated if South Korea could consider China’s position. He made it clear that China is opposed to South Korea’s participation in QUAD.
However, Ambassador Xing’s reaction was not stronger than China’s protest made immediately after the South Korea-U.S. summit. Beijing appears to have decided to take a step back and watch Seoul’s actions down the road, considering that Seoul tried to appease Beijing by saying the two countries have “special ties” after Beijing warned not to “play with fire.” China reportedly thought that it would be difficult to contain the efforts by the U.S. to unite its allies against China if South Korea were to turn its back on it. As for plans for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to South Korea, Ambassador Xing said there is nothing to say for certain at the moment.
Ji-Sun Choi firstname.lastname@example.org