The Korea Herald


Korea, China to hold first diplomatic security dialogue since 2015

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : June 17, 2024 - 17:32

    • Link copied

National flags of South Korea and China (123rf) National flags of South Korea and China (123rf)

South Korea and China are set to hold a high-level diplomatic and security dialogue on Tuesday in Seoul, elevating the talks from the director-general level for the first time in nine years, the South Korean Foreign Ministry announced Monday.

"The upcoming 'Korea-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue' will be held following the agreement between President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese Premier Li Qiang to actively operate communication channels in the diplomatic and security fields between the two countries," the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said.

"During the dialogue, the two sides are expected to exchange views on matters of mutual interest, including bilateral relations, issues concerning the Korean Peninsula, and regional and international affairs."

South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hong-kyun and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong will attend the meeting as chief delegates.

From the military side, Lee Seung-beom, director general for international policy at the South Korean Defense Ministry and Zhang Baoqun, deputy director of the Office of International Military Cooperation of the Central Military Commission, will participate.

The Korea-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue is a 2+2 consultative body involving the foreign and defense ministries.

Previously held at the director-general level in 2013 and 2015, the dialogue has been elevated to the vice-ministerial level for the first time. The upgrade follows an agreement between Yoon and Li during their bilateral meeting in May, which took place on the sidelines of the trilateral summit with Japan.

The high-level meeting could coincide with Russian President Vladimir Putin's first visit to North Korea in 24 years. A senior official from the South Korean presidential office, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed this past Wednesday that the 2+2 dialogue between South Korea and China will occur around the same time as Putin's trip to North Korea, which is expected to take place "in a few days."

If the two high-profile events overlap, the Korean Peninsula will present a stark contrast: enhanced cooperation between South Korea and China after years of strained relations, alongside deepening strategic cooperation between Russia and North Korea, driven by geopolitical shifts amid the war in Ukraine.

The Institute for National Security Strategy, affiliated with Seoul's spy agency, said in a report released Friday that South Korea should "focus on further widening the cracks in the recently loosening ties between China, Russia, and North Korea."

The INSS emphasized that South Korea's "strategic top priority should be to use the Korea-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue to distance China from its close ties with Russia and North Korea."