South Korea swings closer to Beijing


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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un applauds during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country's founding father, Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Since an unexpected détente between Beijing and Seoul at the end of October, South Korea has continued to seek closer relations with China. Here’s the latest:

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in has agreed to visit Beijing in December, Bloomberg reports, noting that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal to also meet with President Xi Jinping was left unanswered. Moon and Xi met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam.
  • The “two countries will strengthen strategic talks on all levels” and “quickly normalize bilateral exchanges in all sectors,” according to a South Korean presidential spokesman, per Reuters.
  • Moon and Xi also “agreed on the need to manage the security situation on the Korean peninsula in a stable way” after Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un “exchanged war-like threats and insults,” raising tensions last month, Reuters reports.
  • The South Korean military may also be pivoting toward Beijing, the Nikkei Asian Review finds (paywall), as it “rejected a U.S. proposal to conduct a trilateral military exercise that would have included participation from Japan…possibly out of concern for relations with China.”
  • Moon hopes that the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea can be the “peace olympics,” Nikkei further notes (paywall), and has invited Xi to attend. He “aims to have Chinese President Xi Jinping attend the opening ceremony of the Games — now less than 100 days away — and use this as leverage to persuade North Korea to participate.”
  • A Chinese marketing campaign featuring a South Korean actress further indicates the warming of relations, Reuters reports.