Chinese ambassador calls S. Korea-U.S. summit statement ‘a bit discouraging’

May 26, 2021

Chinese Ambassador to Seoul Xing Haiming voiced discomfort again on Wednesday over a joint statement from last week’s summit between South Korea and the United States that touched on sensitive issues like the Taiwan Strait.

The statement following the first in-person summit between Presidents Moon Jae-in and Joe Biden in Washington on Friday made a rare mention of the issue of Taiwan, which Beijing regards as part of its territory under its One China policy.

“We feel it’s a bit discouraging. For instance, the issue of Taiwan was brought up,” Xing said in an interview with an MBC program. “Of course, the South Korean side had explained this to us, but from our perspective, this is China’s internal affair.”

Xing stressed that South Korea already recognized Taiwan as part of China when it opened diplomatic relations in 1992.

The ambassador also took issue with the statement’s mention of the South China Sea, reiterating Beijing’s claim that there has been no problem regarding the freedom of transit in the strategic waterway.

But he took note of Seoul’s efforts to respect Beijing’s position. Seoul has stressed that the summit statement did not directly mention China, though a set of expressions, including the Taiwan Strait, appeared to be targeted at Beijing.

“It is up to the Seoul government to independently engage with the U.S. based upon the consensus of the South Korean people,” he said.

Friday’s summit statement has apparently unnerved Chinese authorities. On Monday, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of Beijing’s foreign ministry, said Beijing “brooks no foreign interference” on the Taiwan issue.