Beijing denies Xi’s criticism of Lee administration

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Beijing denies Xi’s criticism of Lee administration

China officially denied a South Korean politician’s claim that its vice president, Xi Jinping, expressed disapproval of the Lee Myung-bak administration’s North Korea policy in a Beijing meeting with South Korean officials last year.

The Blue House and the opposition Democratic Party are engaged in a fierce war of words after the DP’s floor leader, Park Jie-won, said Xi had criticized Lee’s hard-line approach toward Pyongyang during a meeting in May 2009 with former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. Park said Xi called the Lee administration a “disruptor of the Korean Peninsula’s peace.” Park was present at the meeting in Beijing.

But a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Ma Zhaoxu, said yesterday that Xi did not made the controversial remarks, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The Blue House also confirmed yesterday that Ma had rejected Park’s claim about Xi’s remarks.

“We are also carefully watching media reports and the South Korean government’s position about this issue,” Ma was quoted as saying by Yonhap, hinting at Beijing’s displeasure over the row in Seoul over Xi, who is considered a frontrunner to succeed President Hu Jintao.

After Park’s claim, the Blue House said the politician was lying and demanded an apology. It said partial records of the 2009 meeting showed that Xi made no such remarks.

The presidential office also said Park had “committed an act amounting to benefiting an enemy of the state,” by wrongly using diplomacy for domestic political gains and harming national interest.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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