President Xi Jinping became the first Chinese president to speak to a group of Korean students at a local university on Friday.
In an address to some 500 students at Seoul National University, the Chinese leader vowed to further strengthen bilateral relations between Seoul and Beijing through their strategic cooperative partnership.
He used strong words to recount the suffering of China and Korea under Japan's militarism in the early 20th century, describing Tokyo's actions against the two countries as "barbarous and aggressive."
Xi said that when the war against Japan was at its height, the Chinese and Korean people experienced a shared suffering and gave sweat and blood to help each other.
The Chinese president's evocation of Tokyo's military past is seen by many as a call for Korea and China to confront Japan over its denials of history.
He also said that both countries could deepen their mutual understanding by diversifying their cooperation in the cultural arena.
"China will open up a new horizon in China-Korea relations as China will pursue peace and cooperation between the two countries. China and Korea must cooperate in order to open up new opportunities. We will strengthen cultural exchanges in the humanities and liberal arts. This will help foster friendly ties among the people of both countries."
President Xi said Korea and China are each other's closest partner, biggest investor and most favored place for travel, which has led to rapid growth in Korea-China relations.
Ji Myung-kil, Arirang News.