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Track 1.5 dialogue crucial for Korea-China relations

Expanding communication channels through nongovernment-oriented activities is crucial for strengthening relations between South Korea and China, said Kwon Ki-sik, chairman of Korea-China City Friendship Association.

The organization, under Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, held its first civilian forum dealing with South Korea-China cooperation for establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula in Beijing on May 7.

Since the two countries formally established diplomatic relations in 1992, they have made significant improvements in economic and person-to-person exchanges. 

Kwon Ki-sik, chairman of Korea-China City Friendship Association
Kwon Ki-sik, chairman of Korea-China City Friendship Association

But the relationship was strained following Seoul’s decision to install a US-made anti-missile system THAAD in 2016.

“The absence of reliable communication channels was revealed while the governments tried to resolve the THAAD dispute,” he said.

Kwon suggested track 1.5 dialogue, which involves both officials and nonofficials of the two states, as a tool to bring their relations back on track.

Frank discussions among former high-level national security officials took place during the Beijing forum.

“Given that security issues typically involve confidential information, it is necessary for dialogue between South Korea and China, not only between the governments but also in the form of nongovernment organizations that comprise former high-ranking officials,” he said.

The recent event was co-hosted by the China Association for International Friendly Contact, an international exchange organization founded in 1984 at the request of then-Chinese Communist Party leader Deng Xiaoping.

A delegation of the Chinese organization plans to visit South Korea in July to discuss the next forum which will take place in 2020.

By Lee Hong-seok (