Just a day after South Korean President Moon Jae-in's visit to China next week was confirmed, several Chinese media outlets reported on the news, hinting that it could serve as an opportunity to mend the relationship between the two countries.
The China Times on Wednesday reported that Seoul and Beijing are now moving away from their disagreement on South Korea's deployment of the THAAD missile defense system, and that President Moon will be visiting China next Wednesday to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and discuss their diplomatic ties as well as the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons development.
State newspaper the People's Daily and other local media outlets quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, and highlighted that the Chinese Foreign Ministry is hoping that President Moon's visit would improve Seoul-Beijing ties.
With China's recent partial removal of a ban on group tours to Korea, some news agencies quoted experts who were hopeful that the visit would thaw ties and improve Chinese public sentiment toward Korea.
But others are still skeptical about the unresolved THAAD row.
"THAAD will definitely come up as one of the topics discussed during their meeting, especially with the latest missile launch from North Korea. And this is very tricky, as the two countries haven't changed their stance on the issue."
But the expert added, President Moon can offer a counter-proposal this time.
"President Moon could suggest to President Xi, that if Pyongyang does not further develop nuclear weapons or carry out missile launches, Seoul could possibly consider the so-called "three no's."
The three no's are no additional THAAD deployment, no participation in the U.S. missile defense network, and no establishment of a trilateral military alliance with the U.S. and Japan.
The expert said this could also pressure China to increase its role in halting North Korea's nuclear development.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.