Chinese officials’ visit to South Korea aligns with Putin’s trip to Pyongyang

Sun Weidong

18th June 2024 – (Beijing) Senior Chinese officials are set to visit South Korea for a pivotal “2+2” diplomatic and security dialogue. This meeting coincides with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anticipated visit to North Korea, marking his first in two decades and amplifying the strategic stakes in the region.

The Chinese delegation, including Foreign Vice-Minister Sun Weidong and Zhang Baoqun, deputy director of the military’s international cooperation office, will engage with their South Korean counterparts in Seoul. This dialogue, initiated in 2002 and elevated to vice-ministerial level in 2020, serves as a testament to the deepening bilateral relations between China and South Korea, particularly in the fields of diplomacy and security.

The timing of these meetings is particularly poignant. While China and South Korea seek to advance their partnership amidst global challenges, Putin’s visit to Pyongyang is viewed with apprehension. It reflects Moscow’s intent to strengthen ties with North Korea, potentially complicating the security dynamics within the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea’s intelligence sources suggest that the discussions in Pyongyang might lead to enhanced military cooperation between Russia and North Korea, a development that would have significant implications for regional stability. This comes at a time when economic interactions between the North and South are at a standstill, and the spectre of military escalation looms large.