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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

S. Korea Hosts Trilateral Summit with China, Japan


Sun 26 May 2024 | 06:38 PM
Israa Farhan

The leaders of China, Japan, and South Korea convened in Seoul on Sunday for the first trilateral summit in five years.

This meeting, primarily focused on economic issues, marks a crucial step towards regional cooperation amidst longstanding geopolitical tensions.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in Seoul and held separate meetings with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

The summit officially kicks off on Monday, aiming to foster dialogue that has been stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and historical diplomatic disputes, particularly between South Korea and Japan, stemming from Japan's colonial rule over Korea from 1910 to 1945.

Since taking office in May 2022, Yoon has actively sought to improve relations with Japan, emphasizing unity in the face of the North Korean threat.

Prior to his departure for Seoul, Kishida acknowledged the significant regional and global changes since the last summit, underlining the importance of this new meeting.

The Korean president is also scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Premier Li, marking Li's first visit to South Korea since he assumed office in March 2023, before reconvening with Kishida. The three leaders will gather for a formal dinner on Sunday evening.

Despite the recent advancements in North Korea's weapons tests and China's large-scale military drills around Taiwan, experts anticipate that the summit will sidestep these security issues, instead focusing on economic collaboration to achieve diplomatic gains.

A South Korean presidential office official indicated that while security concerns are challenging to resolve swiftly, the summit would concentrate on fostering economic cooperation.

The leaders are working towards a joint declaration, with South Korea aiming to include some security issues in the discussions.

The South Korean newspaper Hankook Ilbo highlighted the importance of cooperation among the three countries, which represent 20% of the world's population and trade.

China, being North Korea's largest trade partner and a key diplomatic ally, has historically resisted condemning Pyongyang for its military tests, focusing instead on criticizing U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises.

In August, Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington announced a new era of security cooperation at a historic summit hosted by the United States at Camp David, a move that Beijing condemned, especially the final statement criticizing China's aggressive actions in maritime disputes.

Last year, Yoon remarked that tensions over Taiwan were due to attempts to alter the status quo by force. Recently, China protested against the attendance of a South Korean representative at the inauguration of Taiwan's new president, Lai Ching-te.

The summit in Seoul represents a pivotal moment for East Asian diplomacy, with the potential to reshape regional dynamics and enhance economic ties among the three nations.