1. 25th Anniversary of Korea-China Normalization
KOREA REPORT(2017 No.4)
25th Anniversary of Korea-China Normalizations
1. 25th Anniversary of Korea-China Normalization: An Opportunity to
‘Renew’ the Bilateral Relations
□ Korea-China relations, which has undergone significant development since
the normalization in 1992, is now facing a grave crisis over the issue of the THAAD
○ Korea-China relations, an elevated ‘strategic cooperation partnership,’ has expanded the areas
of cooperation in economic, diplomatic, security, and social dimensions.
- Particularly in economic relations, Korea and China has established mutually-dependent trade
partnership. These two countries are the largest trading partners of one another:
In 2016, Korea exported 25.1% of its total exports to China, and China exported 24.1% of
its total exports to Korea.
- The amount of total exports has increased thirty-three times since 1992.
○ Korea-China relations has seen rapid deterioration after the conflict erupted over
the issue of THAAD missile system, due to China's strong opposition and following retaliatory
economic sanctions against Korea.
- In March 2017, the Korea Development Bank(KDB) estimated that the total financial damage
from these retaliatory measures to the Korean economy could amount to US$ 10 billion
for the year 2017.
- The negative impact is extending to the private sphere due to pervading anti-Korean sentiment
among the Chinese people.
- The recent deterioration of the Korea-China relations is also evident in the fact that the two
governments have not jointly held any event in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the
□ The conflicting Korea-China relations is placed within the structural changes in the
Northeast Asian region, whose strategic environment is affected by the increasing
struggle for hegemony between the US and China.
○ Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC, is carrying out 'aggressive diplomacy,' breeding
conflicts with neighboring countries in the name of protecting China's core interests.
- In the Korea-China summit meeting last month, Xi Jinping defined the THAAD problem
as China's ‘core interest,’ implying the difficulty of resolving this issue.
- China sees the deployment of THAAD missile system in Korea as the US's containment
strategy against China.
○ If North Korea's provocation continues and its nuclear program becomes further developed,
it would bring negative impact on the Korea-China relations.
- Wang Yi, China's Minister of Foreign Affairs, appealed for the ‘parallel negotiations’
(denuclearization process and the US-North peace treaty and ‘double-suspensions’
(NK's nuclear and missile programs and US-ROK joint military exercises).
□ It is necessary to strengthen multi-dimensional communication with China and use it
as an opportunity to ’renew Korea-China relations.
○ In order to develop ‘practical strategic partnership’, it is necessary to establish systematic
relationship with China through multi-dimensional, strategic dialogues.
- The government must establish the channel of communication between Korea and China in
discussing critical issues such as THAAD and North Korea's nuclear program, in order to
dissolve the conflicts and rebuild trust.
- It is desirable to re-institute Four Strategic Dialogues, which has been put on hold after
the THAAD issue surfaced, and hold regular 1.5-track strategic dialogues along with
meetings among high-officials.
- The THAAD issue goes beyond the realm of Korea-China relations; it is necessary
to stimulate Korea-China-US cooperation as well.
○ By promoting policies linking to ‘One Belt and One Road Initiative(一帶一路)’ put forth by
the Xi Jinping government, the government must expand the cooperation with China.
- The government should link One Belt and One Road Initiative to its own
Pan-Yellow/East Sea zones, a part of the government's ‘new economic map for the Korean
Peninsula’ initiative which aims to extend economic territory to the ‘Continent’.
○ In dealing with North Korea's nuclear problem, Korea and China must equally recognize
the importance of mutual cooperation and work together to protect common interests.
- Without depending too much on 'China responsibility theory', China and Korea must search
for a resolution to the North Korean issues based on realistic assessments on the state capacities.