Healthy development of South Korea-China relations

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s trip to Beijing will be an opportunity to promote a healthy development of South Korea-China relations, a Chinese source said Monday.

Lee, who set off on a three-day state visit to China earlier in the day, is expected to discuss with his counterpart Hu Jintao ways to strengthen bilateral economic ties and exchange views on key pending issues, including North Korea after the death of former leader Kim Jong-il.

“China and South Korea have been close neighbors, but the pace of the two countries building a friendly relationship has been rather slow,” said Zhang Langui, a professor of the Institute for International Strategic Studies at the Party School of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party.

“I believe that the leaders of China and South Korea will put priority on the healthy development of bilateral relations.”

The two neighboring countries mark the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations this year.

During the past 20 years, bilateral trade surged 34-fold to US$ 220 billion in 2011 from $ 6.4 billion in 1992, while the two countries’ relations have moved from a “friendly and cooperative relationship” in 1998 to a “partnership” in 2003 to a “comprehensive partnership” in 2008 when Lee made his first visit to China, Zhang said.

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