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China Rolls out Red Carpet for South Korean President

It’s an unusual scene: The Chinese government today welcomed South Korean President Park Geun-hye with a bouquet of flowers, an elaborate banquet, and the promise of a meeting with Xi Jinping. Across town, a “furtive, hastily arranged” meeting took place between Chinese officials and two North Koreans, a senior officer and a diplomat. The Norks, Jane Perlez reports for the New York Times, were “scolded by their Chinese hosts.”

President Park, by contrast, arrived with no fewer than 71 South Korean business executives. Park speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and said she is “filled with special emotion” on this trip. Xi Jinping calls Park “an old friend.” Her book, Steeled by Despair, Motivated by Hope, tops the list of biographies of political figures for sale on the Chinese Amazon.

Via Meadia has speculated that China might be moving to warm relations with South Korea at the North’s cost. This could help cool off the confrontation on the peninsula while, China hopes, pulling South Korea away from its current pro-US, pro-Japan orientation and closer to Beijing. This is one of China’s best opportunities to improve its regional diplomatic position, as South Korea is uncomfortable with the nationalist rhetoric emanating from Japan these days.

In the long run, some Chinese officials hope to play a guiding role in reconciling and, perhaps, reuniting North and South Korea.

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  • bigfire

    At some point, NorKo’s strategic usefulness will be outweighed by the sheer liability it has caused China. That time is nowhere near though.

  • rheddles

    It would be coup for the Chinese to reunite Korea under a regime that would kick the Americans off the peninsula and act like the old Finland.

    • Philopoemen


      I can’t help but wonder if China’s reaction to Park is due in any part to her father? Do China’s technocrats have a special affinity for him?

    • Thirdsyphon

      It would indeed be a coup if reunification turned out that way… but the whole reason that Korea is Korea and not a thousand-year-old province of China is the fierce national pride and independence of the Korean people. They’re nobody’s Finland.

      • bpuharic

        Though I’ve only been to S Korea once, I agree with this. There’s a keen sense among S. Koreans of the danger BOTH Japan AND China can cause. S Koreans are aware that a relationship with the US has its difficulties, but can provide benefits that they are glad to have.

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