Xi Jinping’s visit made Koreans wary: survey

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Xi Jinping’s visit made Koreans wary: survey

Following the summit between President Park Geun-hye and Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month, more Koreans think Seoul needs to work harder on its security cooperation with Tokyo and Washington, according to a survey conducted by a Seoul-based policy think tank.

In a survey conducted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, 59 percent of respondents picked Japan and the United States as the countries Korea needs to increase security cooperation with, up from 57.1 percent in a survey conducted in March.

In March, 29.8 percent picked China as the country to boost security cooperation with, which dropped to 26.5 percent in July.

Likewise, 59.6 percent of respondents said that Korea has to strengthen cooperation with the U.S in July compared to 24.9 percent who thought cooperation should be boosted with China.

In March, 56.9 percent of respondents thought Korea’s should boost cooperation with Washington while 29.4 percent thought cooperation with Beijing should be strengthened.

On Tuesday, the Asan Institute revealed the results of a survey about Xi’s July 3 to 4 visit to Seoul, conducted on 1,000 adults 19 and older between July 4 to 6.

Some 64.8 percent of Koreans surveyed regarded Xi’s summit with Park favorably and 13.6 percent negatively.

The public had a stronger response to Xi and Park’s summit in Beijing in June 2013. At that time, 75.7 percent of people surveyed by Asan viewed the talks favorably.

The public’s attitude towards the Korea-China free trade agreement has been improving steadily, from 46.5 percent in favor of the FTA in 2012, to 48 percent last year and 65.5 percent this year after Xi’s visit.

“When there is a summit or a large-scale bilateral event, good feelings toward the country generally increase, but this is not always long-lasting,” said Kim Ji-yoon, director of the Center for Public Opinion and Quantitative Research at the Asan Institute for Policies Studies.

“This can signify that the overall image of China has gotten better,” Kim said. “But an improvement in the country’s image is separate from fundamental issues such as which country to cooperate on security issues with, or which side to take on controversial issues such as in the tensions between China and the U.S.”

Amid ongoing strife between China and Japan, as well as China and U.S., Kim pointed out that Xi’s visit brought about little substantive change in Beijing’s position on North Korea and its denuclearization.

“So the notion that we should stick with our traditional ally, the U.S.,” said Kim,” may have gotten a little bit stronger.”

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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