The Korea Times - 4 January 2019
China call for Korea’s role on One Belt, One Road project
By Yi Whan-woo
China and South Korea should seek ways to capitalize on the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign-policy venture, "One Belt, One Road," to expand their economic cooperation, according to Beijing’s top envoy to Seoul.
Speaking at a New Year’s reception on Jan. 4, Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Qiu Guohong said the two countries were "major stakeholders" on the issues on the Korean Peninsula.
"The two countries should find new ways to better benefit from their bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), Qiu said through a translator. "In that regards, linking the FTA with the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative as well as jointly exploring new markets will be necessary."
His remark came amid concerns about OBOR being marketed as a modern recreation of the ancient Silk Road trading route.
Xi’s ambitious economic project is aimed at building a massive network of land and sea links connecting Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, resulting in co-prosperity of the targeted countries.
But it instead has triggered concerns that the infrastructure projects financed by China may result in "semi-colonies."
Ambassador Qiu listed the benefits of Xi’s pet project, such as creating more than 200,000 jobs abroad and investment of more than $700 billion.
"China’s contribution to the global economic growth is bigger than that of the United States and Japan combined," he said.
Regarding the issues on the peninsula, the envoy underscored that China and South Korea were major players and stakeholders.
"The two countries share common interests and very similar stances in denuclearization through dialogue and negotiations and peace and stability on the peninsula," he said.
His remark appeared to be hinting at China’s role amid ongoing Washington-Pyongyang denuclearization talks and Pyongyang’s repeated calls to declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
The Chinese Embassy in Seoul hosted the reception to mark the 40th anniversary of the country’s reforms and opening to the world.
The invited journalists, estimated at about 100, were Korean diplomatic journalists, including former and soon-to-be correspondents to Beijing, and Chinese correspondents in Seoul.
Also joining the event was ruling Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker Park Byeong-seug.
Park, who is also Korea-China Parliamentary Council president, cited a need for cooperation between OBOR and President Moon Jae-in’s New Northern Policy. This is is aimed at bolstering South Korea’s cooperation with China, Russia, Mongolia and Central Asian countries, and lay the groundwork for prosperity and peace on the peninsula.