Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in South Korea on July 3 with a large business delegation and a mass of diplomatic and economic agreements. His visit likely will accelerate progress toward a China-South Korea free trade agreement and provide further incentives for increased bilateral investment and expanded trade. It will also strengthen China’s ties with a key US ally in the region. Fewer than 22 years after Beijing officially opened diplomatic ties with Seoul, China has emerged as South Korea’s largest trading partner. Now, Beijing often appears friendlier with Seoul than its traditional ally, Pyongyang. For its part, South Korea is increasingly hesitant to expand its trilateral defense coordination with the United States and Japan, partly out of concerns it might affect relations with China. On the same day as Xi’s visit to Seoul, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the easing of several Japanese sanctions against North Korea. This followed a series of meetings between the two countries regarding longstanding tensions caused by the North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens. Tokyo lifted restrictions on Japanese nationals traveling to North Korea and raised the amount of money ethnic Koreans can send or take to North Korea without notifying the government…. Read full this story
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