SEOUL, Sept 16 — China's top legislator, Li Zhanshu, called today for more cooperation with South Korea on cutting-edge technologies and supply chain issues.
Li, chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, was speaking in Seoul after meeting his South Korean counterpart, parliament speaker Kim Jin-pyo.
Li was also met with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who is seeking to maintain economic ties with Beijing while strengthening his country's relationship with the United States.
"We support both sides deepening mutually beneficial cooperation, accelerating the second-phase negotiations for the free trade agreement, boosting cooperation in the high-tech sector, and smoothly and stably managing the supply and industrial chains to achieve high-quality development," Li said at a joint news conference with Kim, speaking through a translator.
The two sides agreed "to manage and handle sensitive issues under the spirit of respecting each other's core interests and issues of important interest," Li said, without elaborating.
Beijing has been critical of South Korea hosting a US anti-missile battery called THAAD, and Seoul has faced increasing pressure from Washington to speak up on issues such as Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.
Yoon told Li at their separate meeting that both sides should foster closer communication to ensure that the THAAD issue does not "pose a hurdle" to bilateral ties, Yoon's office said in a statement.
Yoon conveyed his invitation for Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul, and Li also expressed hopes for Yoon's visit to China, the statement said.
Kim told the news conference that he also supported accelerating trade talks, and called on China to play a constructive role in peace in the region.
"Yoon is clearly trying to stabilise Korea's relations with China - but not at the expense of its relationship with the United States," said Go Myong-Hyun, of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.
"The continued visits by high-ranking Chinese officials indicate that China, too, doesn't want to allow its relations with Seoul to deteriorate further," he added.
Li's visit comes amid an uproar in South Korea over the US Inflation Reduction Act, recently signed by President Joe Biden.
South Korea says the act, which excludes electric vehicles (EVs) assembled outside of North America from tax credits in the United States, violates the spirit of the countries' economic and security alliance, which Biden had pledged to strengthen.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong in Washington on Thursday to discuss a range of bilateral issues, including forming a "consultative mechanism" to engage with Seoul as the Inflation Reduction Act is implemented, the State Department said in a statement. — Reuters