The Chinese ambassador to South Korea stressed the importance of resuming summit diplomacy between Seoul and Beijing to tide over "increased" challenges in the region.
In an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Friday, Ambassador Xing Haiming pointed out that a summit meeting will act as an "important strategic guide" in developing South Korea-China ties as the two sides are set to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations next week.
"China places great value and hopes to maintain communication with South Korea regarding this issue," he said. "We hope the two sides will work together to create the atmosphere and conditions favorable for high-level exchanges."
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their last summit meeting on the sidelines of a Group of 20 (G20) summit in Bali in November 2022, during which Xi said he would visit Seoul if the COVID-19 situation stabilizes in his country.
Xi's last visit to South Korea was in July 2014.
Xing emphasized that Seoul and Beijing will surely be able to "move the bilateral relations smoothly and stably" if the two sides continue to strengthen communication and respect each other amid "increased" difficulties and challenges.
"Despite the ups and downs, friendly cooperation and mutual reciprocal prosperity have always been the basis of our bilateral ties," he added.
The reopening of bilateral talks between the top diplomats of Seoul and Beijing last month, as well as China's recent decision to lift its ban on group tours to South Korea after a six-year hiatus, has raised expectations of fresh momentum in their relations.
The ambassador voiced hopes that the resumption of Chinese group travel to Seoul will deepen cultural exchanges between the two countries and "gradually improve public sentiment."
On whether China could further ease its yearslong ban on Korean movies and other cultural content, Xing replied that cultural exchanges have recovered and advanced to some extent in recent years.
"In recent years, bilateral ties became difficult for reasons such as COVID-19, and mutual exchanges have also slumped," he said, stressing that China is actively seeking ways to boost provincial and people-to-people exchanges.
Xing also highlighted the need for stronger ties among South Korea, China and Japan, saying their trilateral cooperation is faced with "complex obstacles."
"The regional and global political situation is faced with new challenges due to changes in global politics coupled with the global crisis," he said.
"China has consistently supported and actively participated in China-Japan-South Korea trilateral cooperation, and supports South Korea's active fulfillment of its responsibilities as the current rotating chair (of the trilateral summit), as well as proposing the direction for promotion and prosperity of the region and creating momentum by pushing ahead with all agendas of trilateral cooperation," he added.
Last month, China's top diplomat Wang Yi proposed high-level talks between the three countries in a meeting with the Japanese foreign minister.
A trilateral summit has not been held since December 2019 due to a deterioration of South Korea-Japan ties and the pandemic. Seoul earlier offered to host a summit later this year.
Source: Yonhap News Agency