South Korea, China set to improve ties

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The leaders of South Korea and China have said they looked forward to improved ties following a protracted disagreement over the deployment of an anti-missile system by the United State that Beijing considers a threat.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in told Chinese leaderXi Jinping that while each side might have felt “disappointed towards each other for a while”, their shared culture and history prevented them from becoming completely estranged.

“It is hoped that South Korea’s dream becomes helpful for China as China’s dream becomes an opportunity for South Korea,” Moon said in opening remarks on Monday before reporters were ushered from the room.

In his opening comments at the meeting at the Great Hall of the People in the centre of Beijing, Xi described bilateral ties as “a substantial relationship in the world and an influential relationship among world nations”.

Ties between the northeast neighbors deteriorated in 2017 after Seoul accepted the establishment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, THAAD, system in southern South Korea. Beijing insists the system’s real purpose is to use its powerful radars to peer deep into its territory, rather than to warn of North Korean missile launches and shoot them down.

Furious, China launched an unofficial boycott of everything from Chinese tour group visits to South Korea to South Korean television shows, boy bands and other cultural products.

Major South Korean retailer Lotte, which provided a golf course where the missile system was deployed, was singled out for especially harsh treatment and its China business operations were essentially destroyed. Even sales of ubiquitous South Korean car brands such as Hyundai and Kia plunged.