South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a summit meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam on November 11. They have another summit meeting in China next month, too.
According to the two Presidents, their meeting in Vietnam marked the beginning of new Sino-South Korean relations in the wake of China’s economic retaliation for THAAD deployment in South Korea. They also discussed how to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat. According to the Blue House of South Korea, the two countries are likely to form a consultative group and discuss the issue in greater depth until the South Korean President’s visit to China scheduled for next month.
Still, the South Korean and Chinese governments are unlikely to meet each other halfway in the near future. At present, the stance of the former is that any dialogue is possible only after nuclear freeze whereas that of the latter is that North Korea’s nuclear provocations and joint military drills of the United States and South Korea should be stopped at the same time. Under the circumstances, the consultative group is likely to focus on the prevention of provocations rather than fundamental solutions to the North Korean nuclear issue.
Earlier, the South Korean government proposed no additional THAAD deployment in the Korean peninsula, non-participation in the missile defense system of the United States, and no joint military drill with the U.S. and Japan. However, these issues were not mentioned during the summit meeting. Still, the Chinese President said that he is looking forward to a responsible act of the South Korean government. Experts pointed out that this remark was to urge the South Korean government to stick to what it suggested and it is in this context that the Chinese President refused to answer at the meeting to the request for participation in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.