| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

S.Korea holds talks with China amid spat with Taiwan

Following a diplomatic conflict with Taiwan over the cancellation of a top Taipei official’s presence at a business roundtable in Seoul last week, senior South Korean diplomats will meet with Chinese colleagues on Thursday.

Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun and his aides are scheduled to meet online with a delegation led by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng later on Thursday, the first such encounter since June 2017.

Both sides are likely to look at methods to restart stalled denuclearization talks with North Korea, as well as discuss other bilateral, regional, and global concerns, according to Seoul officials.

The meeting comes at a sensitive moment, as Taiwan has protested South Korea’s withdrawal of an invitation extended in September for Digital Minister Audrey Tang to speak electronically at a conference in Seoul last week.

The move was deemed “rude” by Taiwan’s foreign ministry, which summoned South Korea’s acting de facto ambassador to express its unhappiness.

The ministry stated that South Korea’s decision was based on “many facets of cross-strait difficulties,” but when Taiwan’s representative in Seoul separately sought an explanation, he received no response.

The decision was taken by the event’s organizers based on “complete assessment of all conditions,” according to South Korea’s foreign ministry, without elaborating.

According to an official at Seoul’s presidential Blue House, the invitation was canceled in accordance with “our diplomatic values, not because of China.”

“Our policy remains unchanged: we will continue to promote unofficial economic and cultural contacts, as well as practical interactions through them,” added the official.

Seoul confronts an increasingly difficult balancing act as its major friend, the United States, concentrates on rallying allies and partners to resist what it sees as a forceful and aggressive China, South Korea’s largest economic partner.

The vice ministers might also address the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, as Western countries join a diplomatic boycott spearheaded by the United States.

The Blue House has stated that it would not participate in the boycott, although talks with China about sending a delegation have yet to take place.

  • Reuters