"China. It's a communist country to the north for South Korea with whom it's enjoyed 25 years of friendly ties particularly highlighted by extensive economic linkages and rich cultural and people-to-people exchange.
That relations went frosty in the past year and South Korean President Moon Jae-in has set out to warm it back up."
Moon Jae-in's first state visit as president of the Republic of Korea and it is to China a reflection of how important the two countries are to one another or what they risk should their ties remain at subpar levels.
The South Korean leader's four-day China trip comes at a time of heightened tensions in Northeast Asia due to North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile programs in the wake of its latest and most powerful-to-date missile test AND on the heels of a Seoul, Beijing agreement to move past a year-long dispute over South Korea's deployment of U.S. missile defense system and normalize exchanges.
As the South Korean leader set out determined to restore the soured bilateral ties back to pre-THAAD row levels, Mr. Moon pointed to centuries-old shared history.
"The two countries together faced hardship under imperialism and together pulled through difficult times fighting against the Japanese colonial rule."
Accompanied by a huge business entourage, President Moon proposed a new paradigm of bilateral cooperation based on common priorities of the two countries in the face of a new, unprecedented global economic order.
"As responsible nations in Northeast Asia, I hope China and South Korea can together work to cope with new changes and challenges."
The rest of the South Korean president's four-day state visit to China will be dotted with significant meetings and symbolic moves, but the highlight will be the third bilateral summit between President Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"Tensions over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions will have to top the agenda but it’s also possible that discord over the THAAD issue will be revisited during the leaders' talks.
How Mr. Moon treads that tightrope will be the first real test of the new administration's diplomacy one that the entire world keep a close eye on.
Moon Connyoung, Arirang News, Beijing."