South Korean foreign minister Park Jin met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during Park's trip to Qingdao earlier this week.
The talks between the two foreign ministers stretched on for five hours two hours longer than expected understandably as they had a lot of sensitive issues to discuss.
First, South Korea's recent decision to participate in a U.S.-led semiconductor cooperation, the question of deploying more U.S. missile defence systems to South Korea, as well as North Korea, and other regional security issues.
A day after the meeting took place, both sides had different versions of how the talks went. Chinese media reported Seoul had agreed on retaining the previous government's position to reject additional U.S. anti-missile systems, or THAAD, but this was false according to South Korea.
To unpack what was discussed and how this meeting set the tone for Seoul-Beijing relations, we turn to: WOO Jung-yeop / Research Fellow at the Sejong Institute. We also connect with JIN Kai / Non-resident Scholar at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, George Washington University.
Dr. Woo: Before and after the talks, there seem to have been some areas of disagreement. Of course, all states seek survival and security above all else, and in line with this, our Foreign Minister emphasised that South Korea will act in its self-interest. His Chinese counterpart urged him to retain 'independence' and 'self-reliance'.
1-1) What does the Yoon administration prioritise as key areas of self-interest?
1-2)How does that reflect in its relations with the U.S. and China?
Dr. Jin: How do you think the meeting of the foreign ministers set the tone for Seoul-Beijing relations?
Dr. Jin: How does Beijing perceive Seoul's increased engagements with Tokyo and Washington? How do you think it is going to react to the Chip cooperation as well as deeper economic cooperation among IPEF members?
Dr. Woo:South Korea has chosen to take part in the U.S.-led cooperation which brings together America's major chip-producing allies.
Dr. Woo:Is Korean public opinion in line with the Yoon administration's general approach to China?
Dr. Jin: Wang Yi also raised the issue of additional U.S.-made anti-missile defence systems being placed on the Korean Peninsula. Again, South Korea can only act in its self-interest given security concerns posed by North Korea. Do you think Beijing has mostly accepted this? How do you think it would react to Seoul deploying more THAAD systems?
Dr. Woo: China didn't pick up the phone when Seoul reached out for help in 2016 following North Korea's 6th nuclear test, a satellite launch and a flurry of missile tests. In what ways do Seoul and Washington want Beijing to cooperate in handling the North and do you think placing additional THAAD systems is looking likely?
Dr. Jin: How do you think Beijing will pursue diplomacy with South Korea under the Yoon administration, going forward? In what areas will they cooperate, and clash?
That's where we must leave it for today. Our thanks to WOO Jung-yeop / Research Fellow at the Sejong Institute JIN Kai / Non-resident Scholar at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, George Washington University for their insights.