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China and South Korea to hold high-level talks

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China and South Korea to hold high-level talks

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Andrea Verdelli/Pool via REUTERS

Top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi will today meet with South Korea’s new National Security Adviser Suh Hoon in Busan, following consultations in Singapore.

Expect Sino-US relations to be at the crux of the discussions. China seeks to curry favour with Asian neighbours and secure mediation with the US, amid growing regional concerns over Beijing’s contentious behaviour and rapidly deteriorating relations with Washington. Facing growing international isolation, COVID-19 induced economic difficulties and unprecedented friction with Washington, Beijing will likely seek a temporary off-ramp. This new disposition is illustrated by Chinese officials’ adoption of a comparatively conciliatory tone from the aggression posture adoption during the initial COVID-19 outbreak. Yang himself wrote about the need to “firmly safeguard and stabilise” Sino-US relations following a noticeable hardening in Washington’s approach to Beijing this past month.

Expect Beijing to scale back its aggressive posture towards regional countries and the US. In turn, Yang is expected to address preparations for a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, undertake deliberations for an annual trilateral summit with Japan and explore opportunities for the enhancement of security on the Korean peninsula. Expect an official date to be established for Xi’s visit to South Korea following today’s consultations.

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