South Korea has called on China's ambassador to issue a protest on Friday, describing comments made by the envoy warning South Korea against making wrong bets in the Sino-US rivalry as provocative and a possible interference in internal affairs.
On Thursday, Xing Haiming made the remarks while speaking with Lee Jae-myung, head of South Korea's main opposition party, where he urged Seoul to stop decoupling from China and restore economic and diplomatic ties.
Xing blamed South Korea for causing difficulties in bilateral relations by failing to respect Beijing's core interests, including Taiwan, while being influenced by the United States.
Frankly, the blame does not lie with China, he said, according to a statement released by the embassy. We hope that the South Korean side will continue to keep its promise and are clear to respect China's core concerns, such as the Taiwan issue. Xing warned not to make the wrong judgment about China because of the interference of external factors like US pressure.
I can assure you, those who bet on China's defeat will definitely regret it, he said.
South Korea's first vice minister, Chang Ho-jin, summoned Xing to warn about the provocative remarks and to express regret, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Openly criticizing Seoul's policy with untrue content and intolerable expressions could constitute an act of interfering in domestic politics, Chang said.
When asked about the criticism, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Wang Wenbin said the current challenges in Chinese-South Korean relations are not caused by China. He said that it is part of Ambassador Xing's job to have extensive engagement with the government, political parties and people from all walks of life, exchange views on bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest and share China's position and concerns.
Wang urged Seoul to adhere to the one-China principle and handle Taiwan-related issues in a prudent way, saying the Taiwan question is purely China s internal affair Lee's opposing party has criticised President Yoon Suk-yeol for what it says is the administration's lopsided diplomacy toward the US relationship at the expense of ties with China, its top trading partner.
Ambassador Xing, vice minister of finance, said in a statement that he will be responsible for all the consequences.
In April, Seoul and Beijing exchanged heated remarks on Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.
Yoon, speaking with Reuters, said that flaring tensions around Taiwan were due to attempts to change the status quo by force, and said he opposed such a move.
Xing also brought up economic ties, saying that South Korea's trade deficits had worsened due to its efforts to decouple from China, but it could enjoy the benefit from Chinese economic growth if its confidence in bilateral ties is restored.
The two countries have constructed an inextricable economic structure in which their industrial and supply chains are closely connected, he said.