Written Interview with President Park Geun-hye
Updated: 2013-06-27 06:16
QUESTION 1: You are about to make your first visit to China as the head of state of the Republic of Korea. What are the main issues high on the agenda?
ANSWER: I have visited China on several occasions, but this visit is being made in my capacity as President of the Republic of Korea. I am filled with special emotion.
Over the past 20 years, Korea-China relations have made remarkable progress. Now is the time for our two countries to elevate the bilateral relationship to a new height reaching beyond what we have achieved thus far.
To this end, I will work with President Xi Jinping during my visit to outline a new blueprint for the common prosperity of Korea and China looking to the next two decades.
Importantly, we will have in-depth discussions about how to give concrete substance to the Korea-China strategic cooperative partnership, how to work together for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia and how to promote bilateral cooperation on the international stage.
QUESTION 1-1: What do you see as the prospects for the Korea-China FTA that is currently being negotiated?
ANSWER: Over the 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, economic exchanges between our two countries have made astounding progress revolving around trade and investment.
As of now, China is the largest trading partner and investment destination for Korea. To China, Korea is likewise one of its major trading partners.
I believe it is high time for our two countries to seek a new framework of economic cooperation commensurate with our economic status in the international community.
If a free trade agreement is concluded, it would make it possible for our two countries to enter one another’s domestic market and would make a great contribution to the stable expansion of bilateral trade.
QUESTION 2: China and Korea have maintained a healthy relationship over the past two decades since the establishment of diplomatic relations. In what new sectors do you see a need for more bilateral cooperation?
ANSWER: With each an important trading partner to the other, Korea and China are very closely related economically and culturally as well.
Some, however, make note of the fact that the level of bilateral cooperation in politics and security lags relatively behind that in the economy and culture.
If we continue to further promote cooperation in the fields of the economy and society while deepening the extent of mutual cooperation in politics and security at the same time, our two countries will be able to carve out a new future for Northeast Asia.
QUESTION 3: It is well known that you have a profound understanding of Chinese culture, which is a significant advantage in handling issues concerning China and communicating with the leadership and the general public. What kind of plans do you have to promote public diplomacy between Korea and China?
ANSWER: Diplomacy is no longer a government preserve. People have a significant influence over diplomatic policies.
In this connection, public diplomacy, which is aimed at winning the hearts of people in other nations and building mutual trust, is gaining increasing significance.
Since the peoples of Korea and China have a favorable view toward each other’s culture and the two countries have deep-rooted cultural ties, the foundation for public diplomacy is robust.
I will endeavor to further expand people-to-people exchanges between our two countries, especially between young people, and enhance bilateral ties in the humanities.
Our two nations have agreed to launch the Korea-China Public Diplomacy Forum within this year if possible, which I hope will serve as a venue for discussing and sharing public diplomacy policies and experiences.
QUESTION 4: We know that you are working very hard to advocate a trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula. Could you expound on the motive and vision of the proposal? On top of this, what do you think the future holds in store for the Korean Peninsula?
ANSWER: As of now, the situation on the Korean Peninsula hangs in the balance due to the North Korea’s nuclear development and a series of provocations. Such adverse conditions notwithstanding, I have a dream of ushering in a new era on the Korean Peninsula by building a regime of sustainable peace on it.
To this end, I put forward this initiative: Even though the North’s provocations will be met with stern responses, the door for dialogue between the two Koreas will remain open. If the North make the right choice to become a responsible member of the international community, the South will redouble its efforts to provide assistance and accomplish common prosperity in both the South and North.
Like East and West Germany, both Koreas must be unified. A unified Korean Peninsula will become a good neighbor to surrounding nations, including China. In addition, it will make contributions to the common prosperity and progress of the international community.
QUESTION 5: In light of current tensions on the Korean Peninsula, what kinds of measures do you plan to discuss with President Xi Jinping during your visit?
ANSWER: In order for the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula to begin in earnest, it is urgent that the North give up its nuclear program and that credible dialogue take place.
Accordingly, I am anticipating that my summit with President Xi will be a time for reaching consensus on the trust-building process as well as for discussing cooperative measures to induce North Korea to change and become a responsible member of the international community.
QUESTION 6: The Asia-Pacific region is emerging as one of the world’s key economic and political hubs. At the same time, actions by certain actors within the region are giving rise to uncertainty. What is your understanding of the current state of security affairs in the Asia-Pacific region? And what kinds of recommendations do you have for maintaining a stable and sustainable balance in the region?
ANSWER: The Asia-Pacific region is indeed becoming increasingly important. In Northeast Asia, however, in a phenomenon that I refer to as “Asia’s Paradox,” growing economic interdependence on the one hand is being accompanied on the other by heightened tensions resulting from territorial disputes and unresolved historical issues. Consequently, the potential for cooperation is not being fully exercised.
This is why I proposed the Northeast Asian Peace and Cooperation Initiative with a view to constructing a new framework for cooperation in the region. Within this framework, efforts for dialogue and trust building will begin with “soft security" issues such as climate change, terrorism and nuclear safety, with cooperation gradually expanding to political and security-related issues.
If the Northeast Asian Peace and Cooperation Initiative can serve to help secure peace in Northeast Asia, I am certain this will be a significant contribution to realizing stability and balance in the entire Asia-Pacific region.