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Chinas Xi wants ties with South Korea to be on track

20 May 2017

In the months leading up to Moon's ascent to the Blue House in Seoul, the North ramped up its nuclear programme with missile tests, USA president Donald Trump threatened to step up military action and pressure grew on Pyongyang's ally China to intervene to solve the problem. China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with South Korea's special envoy Lee Hae-chan (unseen) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, Wednesday, May 19, 2017. Moon, a former opposition leader who was elected May 9, told Xi during that first call that it might become easier to settle differences over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system if North Korea stopped its provocations.

That raised worries in Tokyo that the issue could again hinder ties, at a time when both countries are seeking unity to face the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile development.

A meeting between Moon and Xi could happen as early as July at a Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, according to Seoul's envoy to China, Lee Hae-chan.

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a visiting South Korean envoy on Thursday that China hopes the new government in Seoul will correct the problems that have been encountered in their relations.

South Korea has said it needs Thaad to defend itself from North Korea, but China considers its radars a threat to regional stability.

South Korea has complained that some of its companies doing business in China have faced discrimination in retaliation for the Thaad deployment.

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Since Moon Jae-in took office on May 10, signs have emerged that Beijing and Seoul are seeking to reconcile their differences and fix damaged relations caused by the THAAD dispute. Although he has sometimes criticized the THAAD deployment, Moon has not said he will remove it.

Shortly after the election last week, Xi called the new South Korean leader to congratulate him on his victory.

The ROK-China relationship is significant for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula as well as Northeast Asia, Lee said, stressing that the ROK is willing to enhance pragmatic cooperation with China and push forward the bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation.

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Chinas Xi wants ties with South Korea to be on track