07/04/2014, 00.00
KOREA - CHINA
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Xi Jinping signs strategic anti-Japanese trade agreements with Seoul

The Chinese leader today concluded a two-day visit to the South Korean capital , the first time a Beijing leader has chosen to visit the south of the peninsula before the north. Major trade agreements signed with President Park Geun-hye and a common key to stop Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions found. Xi proposes to celebrate Liberation Day August 15, when Pope Francis will be in South Korea

Seoul (AsiaNews) - A joint action against nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula, a "new covenant" in with anti-Japanese undertones and a "substantial strengthening" of the bilateral trade balance. Along with this, the possible presence of Xi Jinping in Seoul for Liberation Day (August 15), in conjunction with the presence of Pope Francis.

These are the results of two days of meetings between the Chinese president and his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye. The meeting which concluded today in Seoul is the first time for at least 25 years that a Chinese leader has chosen to visit the south of the peninsula before the North. Beijing is Pyongyang's  last remaining ally, but relations between the two states have gradually cooled over the past two years.

Xi and Park had three private bilateral meetings, but the lion's share was settled by the trade delegations accompanying the two presidents. The most important results are the final signature of the free trade agreement between China and South Korea, the launch of a currency trade that will lead to the direct exchange between the yuan and the won and improved food security in import-export. Minor deals include  "improved business cooperation" and the commitment to "strengthen" cultural exchanges through student and university exchanges.

From the diplomatic point of view, however, Beijing and Seoul seem to have a new found warmth in relations. Xi Jinping,  speaking in Seoul, said that " Japanese militarists carried out barbarous wars of aggression against China and Korea, swallowing up Korea and occupying half of the Chinese mainland".

Xi then proposed to "celebrate" Liberation Day, which traditionally in East Asia falls on August 15. If the invitation were to be accepted and put into practice already this year, the Chinese President might be in South Korea on the same days as Pope Francis, who will be in the midst of an apostolic visit to the peninsula (August 14 to 18). But it is more likely that the first joint anniversary will be celebrated in 2015, the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the defeat of Japan.

Harsh tones were also addressed to North Korea, which has welcomed the announcement of Xi Jinping's visit to Seoul with the launch of two short-range missiles into the Sea of ​​Japan. According to Park "in today's summit the two leaders agreed that the denuclearisation of North Korea should be realised by all means and agreed that [we[ resolutely oppose a nuclear test." The Chinese leader was more cautious: " the Korean peninsula faced uncertainty and the concerns of different parties should be balanced and issues resolved through negotiations on an equal basis ".

 

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