ROK military leader visits China

Updated: 2013-06-05 02:19

By ZHOU WA and ZHANG YUNBI (China Daily)

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Beijing, Seoul agree to establish mechanism for communication

Jung Seung-jo, chairman of the Republic of Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Beijing on Tuesday — the first such visit by an ROK military chief in six years — after Monday's meeting between foreign affairs officials from the two countries.

Observers said the series of visits by ROK officials to China is to enhance their comprehensive ties and to pave way for ROK President Park Geun-hye's visit at the end of June.

Jung led a 15-member delegation to Beijing. He talked to Fang Fenghui, chief of general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, about ways to strengthen military ties, China's Ministry of National Defense said.

China and the ROK agreed during Jung's visit to establish a mechanism for routine communications between high-level military officials, ROK's Yonhap News Agency reported.

Yonhap said Beijing and Seoul decided to establish more channels of communication and joint international relief efforts. The countries will maintain communication in an effort to decide whether to upgrade their existing hotline or create a new one.

The agreement is in line with Park's China policy of further enhancing the strategic partnership between the two countries to strengthen Beijing-Seoul military ties, said Wang Junsheng, a researcher on East Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Military ties between China and the ROK are not as strong as economic and political relations, said Shi Yuanhua, director of the Center for Korean Studies under the Institute of International Studies of Fudan University in Shanghai.

He said the agreement is an improvement of ties.

"The ROK wants to find a balance between the ties with China and with the United States, so it hopes to improve military ties," Shi said.

With deeper military ties, China and the ROK can also cooperate more when dealing with the situations on the Korean Peninsula, especially when there is tension, Wang said.

Strategic meetings

Yonhap said the two countries will resume the mechanism of strategic meetings between the ROK's Joint Chiefs of Staff and the PLA's general staff and enhance cooperation between the two armies on patrol in the Gulf of Aden and in other UN peacekeeping work.

China and the ROK have been exploring new ways to strengthen military cooperation since upgrading their ties to a strategic partnership in 2008.

Diplomats from the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the ROK's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade gathered in Beijing on Monday to exchange views on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of common interest, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Tuesday.

Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui and ROK First Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Kyou-hyun co-chaired the sixth China-ROK Foreign Ministry High-Level Strategic Dialogue on Monday.

Leaders from both countries have made the nations' friendship and cooperation a major priority, and China highly emphasized the ROK president's upcoming visit to China, Zhang said.

Beijing is willing to work closely with Seoul to ensure a successful visit to boost greater development of ties, Zhang added.

China seeks to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, to ensure peace and stability of the peninsula, and to resolve the issue through dialogue and reconciliation, Zhang said.

Beijing has reacted positively to Park's proposal for the peninsula's trust process, and it supports the improvement of ties between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the ROK, Zhang said.

The situation on the peninsula has been tense since Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket in December and conducted its third nuclear test in February.

China and other countries have made mediation efforts to ease the situation.

All the involved parties are expected to engage in dialogue and reconciliation to create conditions for an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks and a fast turnaround of the situation, Zhang said.

The mechanism of the China-ROK Foreign Ministry High-Level Strategic Dialogue was inaugurated in 2008 on the basis of the consensus reached between the two countries' leaders.