[EDITORIALS]Welcome, Mr. Tang

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[EDITORIALS]Welcome, Mr. Tang

China and South Korea will mark the 10th anniversary of their diplomatic relations on Aug. 24. It is encouraging to note that both countries are making efforts to promote friendship and mutual cooperation recently. During the meeting between Foreign Minister Choi Sung-hong and his Chinese counterpart Tang Jiaxuan on Friday, the cooperative relations between the two countries were reconfirmed.

The two ministers agreed to open a South Korean Consulate General in Shenyang, upgrading a consular office there to a full-scale consulate general, and to hold regular Seoul-Beijing diplomatic and defense talks at the director-general level. South Korea has long been eager to set up a diplomatic mission covering the three northeastern provinces of China, Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjang, in order to provide diplomatic protection to Korean businesses there and efficient consular services to the large population of Korean-Chinese in the area. Regular meetings of security officials of China and South Korea will enhance the Chinese role of mediator between the two Koreas.

On the occasion of Mr. Tang's Seoul visit, China decided to release Cheon Gi-won, who was under custody in Inner Mongolia on charges of helping North Korean defectors escape to the South. It also allowed the Korean Embassy in Beijing to send eleven North Koreans who sneaked into the mission seeking asylum on July 11 to South Korea. As Mr. Tang pointed out, China is on the losing end of the defector issue. We should evaluate highly the Chinese decision in favor of the defectors. We welcome Mr. Tang's guideline for North Korean defectors, "China will handle the issue in accordance with Chinese and international law and humanitarian principles." We urge China to stop forcing defectors back to North Korea.

In trade, we expect China to respect the World Trade Organization's basic principles of free trade and adopt mutually beneficial policies. The development of Beijing-Seoul relations will contribute to stability in Northeast Asia, and a flexible Chinese policy toward the Korean Peninsula will play a vital role in inter-Korean relations.

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