A lot of attention is being paid to whether or not South Korea’s economic relationship with China frozen due to conflicts over South Korea’s deployment of an anti-missile missile system will thaw with South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s state visit to China with the largest-ever economic delegation as momentum.
The economic delegation to China included Chey Tae-won, chairman of the SK Group, Kim Seung-yeon, chairman of the Hanwha Group, Park Chung-won, chairman of Doosan Group and Koo Ja-yeol, chairman of the LS Group. Chairman- and vice-chairman-level executives of Samsung, Hyundai Motors, LG and CJ among others accompanied President Moon during his visit to China instead of their chairmen as they were behind bars, had health problems or were too old to go to make a trip to China with the President.
The Korean and Chinese governments began negotiations over the service and investment sectors of the Korea-China free trade agreement via President Moon’s state visit to China. The first round of negotiations will be held early next year, and both sides agreed to resume cooperative projects including the establishment of a Korea-China industrial complex and an investment cooperation fund among others. Baek Woon-kyu, South Korean minister of trade, industry and energy discussed ways to strengthen trade cooperation in a meeting with Zhong Shan, Chinese minister of commerce.
President Moon and the South Korean economic delegation also attended the Korea-China Business Forum held at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on December 13. "I hope that this visit will help us to reconfirm our friendship and bilateral trust and step up our cooperation in all areas like a Korean proverb, ‘After rain, ground further hardens,’" President Moon said in his keynote speech.
The forum drew those from 246 Korean companies and institutions and about 200 Chinese companies and organizations. In attendance from the Chinese side were Robin Lee, head of Baidu, Bo Lianming, CEO of TCL, Wang Chuanfu, CEO of BYD and Robin Zeng, chairman of CATL.
Even though the largest-ever South Korean economic delegation visited China, it is unclear whether or not economic relationships between the two countries will enter a thawing mood. China has not lifted regulations on Lotte Mart and electric car batteries produced by Samsung and SK in China for nearly a year after regulating Chinese group tourists to Korea.