South Korean President Park Geun Hye will visit China this month, putting her on track to meet President Xi Jinping ahead of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whose country has been China’s ally for more than six decades.
Park will visit June 27-30 at Xi’s invitation, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters today in Beijing. The announcement came hours after Xi arrived in southern California to meet President Barack Obama at a summit where the two are expected to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program. Hong, when asked, said he had no information about a possible visit by Kim.
“Since Park took office, China and South Korea have maintained high-level contact,” Hong said. “China and South Korea maintaining healthy and stable bilateral relations is in line with the mutual interests of the two peoples and good for the region’s peace, stability and development.”
China is South Korea’s biggest trading partner, with companies including Hyundai Motor Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. expanding in the world’s biggest auto and mobile phone market. South Korea’s trade with China dwarfs that of North Korea, with two-way commerce in the first three months of this year totaling $63.3 billion, compared to $1.3 billion in trade between China and North Korea during the same period, according to Chinese customs figures.
Kim hasn’t visited China since taking over the top post in the world’s only hereditary Stalinist dictatorship from his father, who died in December 2011. Kim Jong Il made regular trips to China and visited in August 2010, meeting then-President Hu Jintao in the northeastern Chinese city of Changchun.
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