Chinese foreign minister arrives in S Korea for talks

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in South Korea yesterday for his first visit in four years amid bilateral efforts to patch up relations damaged by Seoul’s decision to host a United States (US) anti-missile system that Beijing perceives as a security threat.

Wang’s visit came after years of tensions over the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD), system placed in southern South Korea and amid concerns that a US-led diplomatic push to resolve a nuclear standoff with North Korea is beginning to fall apart.

There’s also uneasiness over the US-China trade war, which has hurt South Korea’s export-dependent economy and included US demands that South Korean companies stop using equipment from Chinese technology giant Huawei based on security concerns.

Wang is scheduled to meet South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha before visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in today. They are likely to discuss details of a planned trilateral summit between Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo in China later this month.

There could also be discussions about diplomacy with North Korea and a possible visit to South Korea by Chinese President Xi Jinping next year.

Wang last visited South Korea in 2015, a year before relations soured over Seoul’s decision to deploy THAAD, which China claimed could be reconfigured to peer deep into its territory.

South Korea has said China retaliated by limiting Chinese tour group visits to South Korea, whose economy is increasingly dependent on Chinese tourism, and demand for its industrial products.

Protesters stage a rally to oppose a visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in front of the Foreign Ministry in Seoul. PHOTO: AP