China–South Korea relations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the relations between South Korea and the Taipei-based Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, severed in 1992, see South Korea–Taiwan relations.
China–South Korea relations
Map indicating locations of China and South Korea


South Korea
Diplomatic Mission
Chinese Embassy, Seoul Korean Embassy, Beijing
Ambassador Ambassador

International relations between the People's Republic of China and South Korea were formally established on August 24, 1992.[1] Throughout the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s the PRC recognized only North Korea while South Korea in turn recognized only the Republic of China in Taiwan. In recent years China and South Korea have endeavoured to boost their strategic and cooperative partnership.[2]

History of relations[edit]

Relationship with ROC in mainland before 1949[edit]

Korean War[edit]

Main article: Korean War

The newly established People's Republic of China participated in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953, sending the so-called "People's Volunteer Army" to fight against South Korean and United Nations troops in October 1950 on the side of the North Koreans. It successfully drove the UN forces out of North Korea, but its own offensive into the South itself was repelled. The participation of the PVA made the relations between South Korea and China hostile. The Korean War finished in July 1953, resulting in the establishment of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and the eventual withdraw of Chinese forces from the peninsular.

Post-Korean War[edit]

Throughout the Cold War, there were no official relations between communist China and capitalist South Korea. The People's Republic of China maintained close relations with North Korea, and South Korea maintained diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan. This hindered trade between Seoul and Beijing, because South Korea was unable to protect its citizens and business interests in China without some form of international agreements. Beijing's economic needs involving South Korea were initially eclipsed by those of Moscow. However, because of secondary economic needs and geographic proximity, South Korea and China began active trade nonetheless.

Relations under Park and Chun (1961–1988)[edit]

Junta leader Park Chung-hee initiated and General Chun Doo-hwan advanced a policy of establishing relations with China and the Soviet Union, and attempting to improve those with North Korea. China and the USSR had significant sway in determining the future of the Korean Peninsula. Good relations with old allies of North Korea were therefore integral to the Nordpolitik policy.

Seoul's official contact with Beijing started by the landing of a hijacked Chinese civilian airliner in May 1983. China sent a delegation of thirty-three officials to Seoul to negotiate its return. This marked the beginning of a series of casual exchanges of citizens. For example, in March 1984, a South Korean tennis team visited Kunming for a Davis Cup match with a Chinese team. In April 1984, a thirty-four-member Chinese basketball team arrived in Seoul to participate in the Eighth Asian Junior Basketball Championships. Some Chinese officials reportedly paid quiet visits to South Korea to inspect its industries, while South Korean officials visited China to attend a range of international conferences. Since China and South Korea began indirect trade in 1975, the trade volume has steadily increased.

Late 1980s[edit]

Active South Korean-Chinese individual contacts have been encouraged. Academics, journalists, and particularly families divided between South Korea and China were able to exchange visits freely in the late 1980s. Significant numbers of citizens of each country reside in the other. As of 2009, more than 600,000 PRC citizens reside in South Korea, of whom 70% are ethnic Koreans from the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China's Jilin Province and other parts of China, while roughly 560,000 South Korean citizens lived in China.[3][4]

However, significant barriers to strong trade and relations persisted. The absence of any protections granted by official relations had still remained. Beijing has been politically closer to P'yongyang, and relations with North Korea remained tense and distrustful.

It had been difficult for analysts to predict what effect a political turmoil in the People's Republic of China would have on Sino-Korean relations. After the military putdown of demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in June 1989, Pyongyang predictably came out in support of Beijing's actions. Seoul, on the other hand, did not condone or condemn the actions in Tiananmen Square.


Trade between the two countries continued to increase nonetheless. Furthermore, China has attempted to mediate between North Korea and the United States and between North Korea and Japan and also initiated and promoted tripartite talks—among Pyongyang, Seoul, and Washington.

South Korea had long been an ally of the Republic of China. Diplomatic ties between Seoul and Taipei were nevertheless severed in 1992. Formal diplomatic relations were established between Seoul and Beijing on August 24, 1992.

After the KORUS FTA (United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement) was finalized on June 30, 2007, the Chinese government has immediately begun seeking an FTA agreement with South Korea.[citation needed] The FTA between Korea and China are under discussion. South Korea has been running a trade surplus with China, which hit a record US$ 32.5 billion in 2009.[5]

It was announced on 10 January 2011 that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) established two teams of China experts and language specialists under its department handling Chinese affairs in an effort to strengthen diplomacy. An analytical team will report on political, economic and foreign affairs developments in China, and a monitoring team consisting of seven language specialists will report on public sentiment in China. The Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS), a think-tank affiliated to MOFAT, also launched a centre dedicated to China affairs, which will act as a hub to collate research on China undertaken in Korea.[6]

The Park-Xi summit in 2013 showed promise of warming relations, but this quickly chilled after China extended their Air Defense Identification Zone (East China Sea) over South Korean territory.[7] Despite this, in July 2014, Xi visited South Korea before its traditional ally North Korea, and in their talks, both leaders affirmed their support for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and the ongoing free trade agreement negotiations.[8] Both leaders also expressed their concerns over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.

Historical issues[edit]

The Chinese historical claims surrounding Goguryeo and its related kingdoms created some tension between South (and North) Korea and the PRC.[9] The PRC government has recently begun the Northeast Project, a controversial Chinese government research project claiming Goguryeo and other various Korean kingdoms, including Gojoseon, Buyeo and Balhae, to be Chinese tributary states. This sparked a massive uproar in South Korea when the project was widely publicized in 2004.[10]


The antecedent of the South Korea government received the support of China.[citation needed]

Both the governments of China and South Korea take a firm stand on issues in relation to Japanese war crimes. Korea had been under Japanese rule after the collapse of the Joseon Dynasty in 1910. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan invaded and occupied eastern China.

During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army perpetrated many war crimes against both Chinese and Koreans. This has caused both to oppose the Japanese government's stand on war crimes committed in during the war. Issues where both the Chinese and South Korean governments stand together include the controversial visits of Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine, the Japanese history textbook controversies, and comfort women.

In 2014, a memorial dedicated to Korean assassin An Jung-geun was opened in the Chinese city of Harbin, where Ahn assassinated Japanese Prime Minister Itō Hirobumi in 1909. The Japanese government protested the move, referring to An as a "terrorist".[11]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]