Korea, China get back to local cooperation

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Korea, China get back to local cooperation

Local governments in Korea and China are moving to step up their bilateral exchanges in wide-ranging areas, including tourism and the environment, after years of conflict over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in Korea.

In addition to the Chinese government’s moves to ease tensions over the U.S. terminal high altitude area defense system, the second conference of Korean and Chinese metropolitan mayors and provincial governors, set to open in Beijing on Tuesday, is expected to provide fresh momentum for more brisk bilateral cooperation, officials here said Monday.

Mayors and governors of seven Korean local governments - Seoul, Daegu, Sejong, South Chungcheong, South Jeolla, North Gyeongsang and Jeju Island - departed for China early this week to attend the Beijing conference, which will also bring together heads of 12 Chinese provinces and metropolitan cities.

The two countries held the first conference of provincial governors and mayors in Incheon in 2016 to help stimulate bilateral cooperation and exchanges.

The municipalities of Seoul and Beijing held a joint forum on climate and environment cooperation in the Chinese capital on Monday and agreed to jointly study ways to reduce fine dust in the two cities.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, now on a four-day visit to China, is set to give a speech at Peking University Monday afternoon and preside over the provincial governors’ conference on Tuesday. According to officials, this year’s Beijing conference will focus on practical exchange and cooperation measures to improve air quality.

Jeju Gov. Woo Hee-ryong plans to introduce his Carbon Free Island 2030 project, which calls for securing all electric power from renewable energy and replacing all cars with electric vehicles by the target year to build an “island of energy independence.”

Korean provincial governors and mayors are also expected to use the Beijing conference as an opportunity to attract Chinese capital and tourists and sign a sisterhood agreement, the officials said.

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