Park wins hearts, minds in China

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Park wins hearts, minds in China

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During her four-day state visit to China, President Park Geun-hye sported a variety of colorful outfits, such as a pink suit dress that she wore during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. By Choi Seung-sik

The Blue House yesterday appeared highly content with the success of President Park Geun-hye’s trip to China, and with the enthusiastic response of the Chinese people in particular.

“Various aspects of Park’s activities in China were received passionately by the Chinese people,” Lee Jung-hyun, the president’s senior public affairs secretary, said yesterday. “Public diplomacy is a new paradigm in international relations. In addition to diplomatic efforts with a foreign government, a variety of attempts are made to engage the people of the country. President Park’s diplomacy in China severed that purpose as well.”

Park visited China for four days last week, spending two nights and three days in Beijing and one night and two days in Xi’an. In addition to high-profile political and economic events, including a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a series of cultural events were weaved into her itinerary, and China gave her a passionate welcome.

Park spoke in Mandarin Chinese at numerous events. Starting with her greeting remarks at the summit with Xi on Thursday, she also delivered a quarter of her speech in the language before a group of students and faculty at Tsinghua University in Beijing on Saturday. She quoted famous sayings from Chinese classics in her opening and closing remarks.

She was also invited to a special luncheon privately hosted by Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, in a sign of rare hospitality. The first lady is also a renowned singer who is popular not only in China but also in other countries. Lee said yesterday that the luncheon served as a great opportunity for public diplomacy.

A series of cultural events also took place during Park’s visit to China to deepen the exchanges between the people of the two countries. She attended a K-pop performance that took place on Friday evening in Beijing.

She received what was perhaps her most passionate welcome when she visited the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum in Xi’an on Sunday.

More than a thousand visitors, mostly tourists from around China, waited outside the museum as temperatures soared to 37 degrees Celsius under the scorching sun, and cheered loudly for her as she moved from one building to another.

Lee, Park’s public relations secretary, said yesterday that the president’s deep knowledge of Chinese culture, philosophy and history also helped her win the hearts of the Chinese people. Various media outlets covered her trip extensively and she gave a lengthy interview on CCTV.

Her popularity with the Chinese people was noted by Beijing leaders. At the special luncheon, Xi told Park that she has many passionate fans in China and that she was making a particularly strong impression on the nation’s women and youth.

Park also paid special attention to her wardrobe to respect Chinese culture. She wore a yellow jacket for her summit with Xi as red and gold are auspicious colors in the country. She also wore a golden hanbok, or traditional Korean dress, for a state dinner hosted by Xi.

When she attended a forum of Korean and Chinese businessmen on Friday her jacket was red, a color symbolizing wealth and good fortune.

“We didn’t deliberately design every single activity for public diplomacy,” Lee said. “You can’t become fluent in the Chinese language overnight, and you can’t have in-depth knowledge about Chinese philosophy overnight. It was an accomplishment of her accumulated abilities and it naturally worked out successfully in terms of public diplomacy. We expect it will add a synergy effect to the government-to-government diplomacy with China.”


BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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