Only one chaebol head accompanies Lee to China

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Only one chaebol head accompanies Lee to China

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo left Seoul for Beijing yesterday to accompany President Lee Myung-bak on his three-day trip to China as the only conglomerate head along with the business delegation.

According to the country’s second-largest conglomerate by asset, Chairman Chung attended a state dinner yesterday evening with President Lee, which was hosted by China’s President Hu Jintao. Though local conglomerates are interested in how the Korea-China FTA will progress after the Korea-China summit, not many chiefs are visiting China with President Lee except for Chung.

Huh Chang-soo, chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries, the country’s largest business lobby group, is not taking part in the trip and neither are other conglomerate heads. Samsung Group and LG Group have each sent their local presidents - Chang Won-kie from Samsung Electronics and Nam Young-woo from LG Electronics - to the state dinner. Hanwha Group also sent its Chinese head Keum Choon-soo.

According to industry sources, Chung’s visit to China with President Lee comes as Hyundai Motor has been playing the role of boosting economic ties between the two countries.

Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, the country’s two largest automakers owned by the conglomerate, have been expanding their manufacturing facilities in China. In fact, Hyundai Motor has two manufacturing plants in operation in Beijing and is currently building its third plant to be completed by the end of this year.

The automaker will then be capable of churning out 1 million cars every year. As for Kia Motors, it currently has a factory near Shanghai that can produce 430,000 units per year. The automaker is also building a new plant which will boost its production capability to 730,000 units by 2014.

“Chairman Chung visited the construction site of Hyundai Motor’s third manufacturing plant in Beijing before attending the state dinner with President Lee and his counterpart,” the conglomerate said yesterday.

Last year, Hyundai and Kia sold more than 1.17 million cars in the Chinese market.

By Lee Eun-joo []

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