South Korea’s senior diplomats and its Chinese counterparts held talks after much cancellation since 2017. The latest outcome is a result of Seoul’s spat with Taiwan over the former’s cancellation of an invitation to a senior Taipei official to take part in a business forum last week.
The meeting was attended by South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun with a team led by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng.
According to reports by South Korea’s foreign ministry, both the sides had discussed efforts to reopen delayed denuclearisation talks with North Korea, as well as Beijing’s preparations to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in February.
The ministry mentioned that Choi restated that Seoul hopes the Olympics will be successful, without further elaborating on any discussions of attendance by South Korean officials per se.
According to the South Korean presidential Blue House, it is not considering participating in a U.S.-led diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. However, discussions are yet to be held with China on sending a delegation.
As the United States is South Korea’s top ally, they are facing an increasingly difficult balancing act focused on marshalling allies and partners to counter what it calls a coercive and aggressive China, which is again South Korea’s largest economic partner.
According to Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, they hope the latest diplomatic talks with South Korea can have a positive effect on enhancing communication and mutual trust and the promotion of bilateral relations.
On the otherhand, Taiwan has lodged a protest over South Korea’s revocation of its invitation sent in September for Digital Minister Audrey Tang to speak virtually at a conference last week in Seoul.
According to reports, Taipei’s foreign ministry has summoned South Korea’s acting de facto ambassador to express its displeasure over cancellation of Tang’s visit.
While an official at Seoul’s presidential Blue House commented that the meeting organisers cancelled the invitation in line with their diplomatic principles and not because of China in particular.
A South Korean official on the cancellation commented that their position remains unchanged and will continue promoting unofficial economic and cultural relations with Taiwan, and practical exchanges through them.