BEIJING, Sept.3 (Xinhuanet) -- South Korea is the only major ally of the United States that attended this year's WWII victory day parade. Experts in South Korea say President Park Geun-hye’s visit to China is a major turning point for relations between the two countries, and a win-win for Park’s foreign policy.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye is in China this week, but leaders from many of South Korea's allies, like the United States, are not.
Deciding whether to go to Beijing this week was a diplomatic gamble for Park. But in the end, the gamble could provide great dividends in future relations with China.
"There have been two types of leadership in the region; geopolitical centered on the U.S., and economic led by China. Because of this, China and the U.S. have had times of disagreement and times of cooperation. So, President Park’s visit is an opportunity to display her dual diplomacy, whereby she induces cooperation between Beijing and Washington," Professor Kim Han-Kwon with Korea National Diplomatic Academy said.
President Park's approval ratings have been marred by a prolonged economic slump and domestic tragedies, like the sinking of the Sewol ferry last year and an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome earlier this year.
But surveys show her ratings are back on the rise after South Korea and the DPRK reached a deal recently to ease tensions near their border.
With inter-Korean ties currently on the mend, experts say now is the right time for China to use its influence to help resolve the DPRK nuclear issue.
"I think it’s important for China to deal with DPRK nukes in the short term by freezing assets. But in the long run, Beijing should get promises from South Korea and the U.S. to lay out a roadmap toward the DPRK’s full denuclearization," Professor Kim Han-Kwon with Korea National Diplomatic Academy said.
Presidents Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye have now met a total of six times since both took office. Experts say this shows just how close the two countries have become since forging diplomatic ties just over two decades ago. It’s in fact a natural reflection of the close economic and social ties these two countries share.
"President Park's decision to attend China's 70th anniversary Victory Day parade took into account friendly cooperative ties with our neighboring country. We look for China to take an active role in peace and unification on the Korean peninsula," South Korean Ministry Of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Noh Kwang-Il said.
And if the two countries are able to make progress during this visit, a scheduled trilateral summit with Japan could take place next month, which, according to experts, could shape the region’s political landscape in the years to come.