Great expectations

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Great expectations

President Park Geun-hye’s visit to China is only three days away. Beijing has expressed hopes for a successful summit as seen in the remarks of Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman. She identified Park as an “old friend of China.” Park’s summit with counterpart Xi Jinping will likely offer a good opportunity to elevate bilateral relations, which soured a bit during the Lee Myung-bak government, to a new level.

The biggest question is whether both leaders will demonstrate any noteworthy consensus on issues on the Korean Peninsula, in particular nuclear threats from North Korea. Although past joint statements by the two countries’ leaders occasionally mentioned the delicate issue, they fell short of meeting our expectations as they were neutral and predictable agreements. Since the North’s third nuclear test in February, however, China appears to be more stern about accomplishing the denuclearization of the North, as suggested by Xi’s remarks at his summit with U.S. President Barack Obama earlier this month.

The Park-Xi summit scheduled for June 27 follows the Obama-Xi summit in California. We hope it will pave the way for a successful resolution of the nuclear conundrum on the peninsula. Park is expected to explain to Xi her ideas of how to address the issue based on her discussions with Obama in order to find some practical solutions. We hope the meeting provides a great turning point in their effort to solve the decades-old nuclear riddle.

Both leaders will also deal with economic challenges like a free trade agreement. The reasons are obvious. China has emerged as our largest trade partner with both countries’ overall trade volume reaching a whopping $215.1 billion last year. The economic interdependency will inevitably grow in the future. That’s why President Park will be accompanied by as many as 70 economic bigwigs this time, the largest number for any of our presidential trips to foreign countries. We expect Park to open a new horizon in various fields to further promote economic exchange and cooperation, not to mention narrowing differences between the countries over the ongoing negotiations to hammer out a free trade pact.

Expectations are high for Park’s visit to China. If she can show skillful diplomacy with her Chinese counterpart, it will likely attract Chinese citizens’ enthusiasm as well. Both countries should establish a firm foundation to boost cooperation not only on the pending issues on the peninsula but also other issues around the world. We hope the president’s China trip will bear meaningful results.
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