Business leaders to join Park on trip to China

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Business leaders to join Park on trip to China

President Park Geun-hye will be accompanied by dozens of influential tycoons and financiers on her trip to China later this week to promote the “Go West” initiative to support Korean business in the country’s underdeveloped regions in the west.

According to the Blue House and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an economic delegation of 71 businessmen will join Park on her visit to Beijing and Xi’an from Thursday till Sunday.

“The large economic delegation reflects the Park government’s attention to its relations with China,” Kim Haing, presidential spokeswoman, said.

The number of delegates is nearly double that of the businessmen who accompanied her predecessor on his first presidential visit to China.

During President Lee Myung-bak’s trip in May 2008, a 38-member delegation joined him.

A larger number of businessmen is also following Park to China than her May trip to the United States. At the time, her economic delegation had 52 members.

While her visit to Beijing is expected to focus on agendas linked to North Korea’s nuclear arms programs, her trip to Xi’an, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, will highlight Korean companies’ business in China’s western region.

Korea’s largest companies, including Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motors, LG and Posco, are increasingly investing in the area, known for its emerging economic potential.

The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday released the list of 71 economic delegates and the names of high-profile business magnates.

Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo and LG Chairman Koo Bon-moo are among the delegates, along with Hanjin Chairman Cho Yang-ho, Doosan Chairman Park Yong-maan and Posco Chairman Chung Joon-yang.

Kumho Asiana Chairman Park Sam-koo, who also heads the Korea-China Friendship Association, is also a member.

On behalf of their bosses who are currently facing trial, Kim Chang-geun, chairman of the Supex Council, SK Group’s highest decision-making body and Hong Ki-joon, Hanwha Chemical vice chairman, will join the delegation.

Despite Samsung Electronics’ massive investment in Xi’an to build a semiconductor factory, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee and his son, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee, won’t join the delegation, while Kang Ho-moon, Samsung Electronics vice chairman, will travel with Park. Chairman Lee departed for Japan last week and an industry source said he already sought understanding from the Blue House for his absence.

Leaders of major economic lobbies, including the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Federation of Korean Industries, Korea International Trade Association and Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business will join Park, except for Lee Hee-beom, chairman of the Korea Employers Federation, who recently stepped down from his post at the STX Heavy Industries due to company problems.

Heads of major banks and financial companies will also join the delegation. Heads of the Industrial Bank of Korea, Export-Import Bank of Korea, Shinhan Financial Group and Hana Financial Group will accompany Park as well as Bahk Byong-won, chairman of the Korea Federation of Banks.

According to sources from the business community and the Blue House, Park and the economic delegation are working hard for their “Go West” strategy.

As China’s economic growth remains sluggish, Korean companies are increasingly turning to the underdeveloped western region. The area, made up of six provinces, five autonomous regions and one municipality, has a combined population of about 370 million and contains 71.4 percent of mainland China’s area.

The economic delegation will attend a business forum in Beijing on Friday and discuss cooperative efforts with Chinese businessmen and government officials. Korean companies operating in China will also announce their investment plants to fulfill their corporate social responsibility.

The delegation also included 33 heads of mid-sized enterprises.

According to a government source, a large number of mid-sized enterprises wanted to join the delegation because of the Chinese culture of guanxi, the personalized networks of influence which often decides the success of a business in China, as well as other affairs.

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