Warmest of welcomes for China’s Wang

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Warmest of welcomes for China’s Wang

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Chaebol leaders meet with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang in Seoul. From left: Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee, left, with Wang on Friday; Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo, right, with Wang on Saturday; LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo, right, with Wang on Saturday. Provided by each group

Korea’s chaebol chiefs rushed to meet Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang over the weekend to strengthen economic cooperation with China and seek investment opportunities.

Wang was in Korea from Thursday to Saturday on the invitation of the Korean government to attend the opening ceremony of the Year of Chinese Tourism in Seoul.

The 60-year-old is one of four Vice Premiers in China and is considered a leader of country’s economic and industrial policies.

During his three-day visit to Korea, Wang met with President Park Geun-hye, other government officials and Korea’s conglomerate chiefs. The leaders of Korea’s top four chaebols - with the exception of SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who is in jail - had a chance to talk with Wang privately. Other conglomerate leaders attended the meeting to get time with him.

On Friday, Samsung Electronics said that Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee met Wang at the Shilla Hotel and discussed economic cooperation between China and Korea’s largest tech company. As Chairman Lee Kun-hee is hospitalized, his only son Jay Y. Lee had to meet the Chinese Vice Premier along with other executives. The heir-apparent of Samsung Group had already met Wang in Beijing last February.

“Chinese customers have increased in Everland theme park in Yongin, Gyeonggi and the Shilla Hotel following the rising transactions between two countries,” Lee said. “We will actively expand cooperation between Chinese companies and the government to vitalize transactions between Korea and China.”

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo met Wang on Saturday morning and asked his help for the construction of new plants in China.

“Hyundai Motor is expecting that new plants to be built in Changzhou and Chongqing will be a bridge to economic cooperation between the two countries and contribute the China’s plan to develop its west,” Chung said. “We ask the Chinese government’s cooperation so the construction of new plants can be on schedule.”

Wang replied to Chung that the Chinese government will “actively support” what Hyundai Motor Group is doing in China, according to the company.

Korea’s largest automaker sold 1.84 million vehicles in China last year, up 10 percent from a year ago. It is targeting to sell 1.99 million vehicles this year.

The group currently has seven plants in China with production capacity reaching 1.95 million vehicles, but after completion of Hyundai Motor’s plants in Changzhou and Chongqing and when Kia’s third plant in Yancheng goes into full operation, the automaker will have production capacity of 2.7 million units in China by 2018.

LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo also met Wang on Saturday morning, first expressing his thanks to China for the completion of LG Display’s LCD plant in Guangzhou in September. The company decided to build the plant while Wang was working as a party secretary of Guangdong province.

“We will actively participate in China’s environmentally friendly policies and continue to reinforce cooperation with Chinese companies,” Koo said.

LG Group said that Wang had a big interest in LG’s electric car battery technology. Its affiliate LG Chem is building a plant for electric car batteries in Nanjing and is scheduled to have commercial production from 2016.

Other business leaders zeroed in on Wang as well. Before a China-South Korea economic and trade forum was held on Friday, Wang visited the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) and met with KCCI Chairman Park Yong-maan, who is also chief of Doosan Group, Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun and AmorePacific Group Chairman Suh Kyung-bae.

On Saturday, the Chinese vice premier attended a luncheon hosted by the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), a business lobbying group for conglomerates, at the Shilla Hotel. Although FKI Chairman Huh Chang-soo, who is also GS Group Chairman, was not able to meet Wang as he was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, Posco Chairman Kwon Oh-joon, and Kumho Asiana Group Chairman Park Sam-koo welcomed him.

“We ask the vice premier’s support for economic cooperation between Korea and China to be expanded further in various industries,” said Shin.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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