Blue House denies rift with Beijing

Home > National > Politics

print dictionary print

Blue House denies rift with Beijing

In an effort to quell speculation of severely strained diplomatic ties with China, a top presidential aide said yesterday that Beijing briefed South Korea yesterday morning on the visit of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, and South Korea was the first country to get such a briefing.

“The Chinese government gave a brief about Kim’s trip to the South Korean government around 8 a.m., Beijing time,” said Kim Sung-hwan, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security. “China has done so because it highly values its relationship with South Korea.”

According to a Blue House source, China gave the briefing to South Korean Ambassador Yu Woo-ik. The official refused to reveal the Chinese official who gave the briefing.

Beijing said that South Korea was the first country to be officially informed about the North Korean leader’s visit, Kim said.

Kim’s remarks came amid growing concerns here about a possible conflict between Seoul and Beijing. China hosted the North Korean leader only three days after President Lee Myung-bak met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Shanghai, and Seoul voiced its displeasure over the timing of the trip and not being informed in advance. An international probe is ongoing into the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, and North Korea is suspected of being behind the fatal incident.

President Lee said earlier yesterday that China rescheduled Kim’s trip so it could receive him first.

“It is my understanding that China believed it was inappropriate to meet with North Korea first before meeting with us, thus, it postponed the North Korean leader’s visit by a few days,” Lee was quoted as saying by GNP spokesman Cho Hae-jin during a breakfast meeting with Grand National Party leaders. “The North made numerous requests to China this year to facilitate the trip.”

Blue House senior secretary Kim elaborated on Lee’s remarks. “The Chinese government listened to our position first and then received Kim,” he said. “At the Lee-Hu summit, China first expressed its condolences over the Cheonan incident, and the expression was made publicly while journalists were present. That means China was willing to listen to what our positions are about the Cheonan.”

Therefore, he said, China understood South Korea’s position on the incident when Hu met with Kim.

President Lee also told GNP leaders yesterday that South Korea will inform China about the outcome of the investigation into the Cheonan’s sinking and discuss follow-up measures. “The Chinese government will understand and play a role,” Lee was quoted as saying by the GNP spokesman.

Lee’s remarks appeared to be an attempt to urge Beijing to support Seoul’s position in the handling of the Cheonan’s sinking.

The Blue House also had to do some damage control over a diplomatic spat this week in Seoul. A senior presidential aide told the JoongAng Ilbo that Blue House senior secretary for foreign affairs Kim met with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xinsen on Thursday to soothe feathers ruffled earlier in the week, when two South Korean ministers complained to him about Kim’s trip. According to the source, Kim asked Zhang not to pay too much attention to media reports that highlight conflicts.

On Tuesday, South Korean Unification Minister Hyun In-taek complained to Zhang about Beijing’s handling of Kim’s trip. Vice Foreign Minister Shin Kak-soo also summoned Zhang on Monday to relay Seoul’s disappointment regarding Kim’s visit.

After the two complaint sessions, China made it clear it was irritated.

By Ser Myo-ja, Seo Seung-wook [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article

MB “중국, 우리 생각해서 북 지도부 방문 며칠 미룬 것”


이명박 대통령은 7일 “천안함 사건에 대한 객관적이고 과학적인 조사 결과가 나오면 지난번 정상회담 때 약속한 대로 중국에 통보하고 협의를 하게 될 것”이라며 “그럴 경우 중국 정부도 납득하고 역할을 하게 될 것”이라고 말했다. 한나라당 정몽준 대표, 김무성 신임 원내대표 등 당 지도부와 청와대 조찬 회동을 한 자리에서다.

이 대통령은 “북한이 올 들어 여러 차례 중국 방문을 요청해 일정이 만들어졌지만 중국은 우리와 만나기 전에 북한과 먼저 만나는 것이 문제가 있다는 생각에서 북한 지도부의 방문을 며칠 미룬 것으로 알고 있다”고 소개했다. 그러면서 “전 세계 국가들 가운데 우리가 먼저 상하이 엑스포를 방문하고, 중국과 정상회담을 한 데 대해 중국 정부가 고마워하는 입장”이라고 설명했다.

  • 한글 기사 보기
  • More in Politics

    Moon's buddies paid illegal salaries, says BAI

    Big deal

    Choo says neither she nor husband requested favors for son

    Moon to take part in UN events remotely

    Amicable meeting

    Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
    with the Korea JoongAng Daily
    help-image Social comment?
    lock icon

    To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

    Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

    What’s Popular Now