Seoul to reinforce China diplomacy in new budget

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Seoul to reinforce China diplomacy in new budget

The government said yesterday it will increase its budget for diplomacy with China eight-fold next year and reinforce other diplomatic resources to better deal with the country’s increasingly powerful neighbor.

The 2011 budget plan, passed by the National Assembly on Wednesday, increases the budget earmarked for foreign affairs dealing with China from 390 million won ($341,506) to 3 billion won, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said yesterday.

The ministry said it will create one more Chinese office within its Northeast Asian bureau, adding to the one it has now. The ministry said it will also create an analysis team to craft better Chinese policies. Another team will focus on tackling anti-Korean sentiment in China, the ministry said.

“As China’s regional and international influence is quickly growing, we have tried to increase our capability dealing with China,” said a ministry official.

Meanwhile, the ministry’s entire budget will be 1.74 trillion won next year, up 14.7 percent from this year’s 1.52 trillion won. That marks a double-digit percentage growth for a third straight year. Next year’s foreign ministry budget accounts for 0.83 percent of the total budget for the year.

The ministry set aside 780 million won for projects to assist in the denuclearization of North Korea, given the rising international concern over the North’s uranium enrichment facility.

The ministry is also working on a plan to manage a pan-government task force dealing with North Korean nuclear issues, and a plan to dispatch government officials with expertise on the issues to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

To facilitate “sales diplomacy,” or diplomatic efforts at overseas Korean embassies to increase Korea’s overseas business projects, the ministry will spend 1.5 billion won. About 1.3 billion won was set aside for ongoing negotiations between Seoul and Washington on a new nuclear accord.

By Moon Gwang-lip []
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