Seoul: The Chinese ambassador in Seoul suggested that South Korea may be placing "wrong bets" in the Sino-US rivalry and urged Seoul to stop "decoupling" from China and reestablish diplomatic and economic ties.
The comments were made by Xing Haiming during a meeting with Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition party in South Korea, late on Thursday. Lee Jae-myung has criticised President Yoon Suk Yeol for pursuing a lopsided diplomacy towards the US alliance at the expense of relations with China, its top trading partner.
Seoul, under the influence of the US and failing to respect Beijing's core interests, including Taiwan, was held responsible by Xing for causing "difficulties" for bilateral relations.
China-South Korea relations are fraught with problems. According to a statement issued by the embassy, he claimed that China was not to blame. "We sincerely hope that the South Korean side will honour its commitment and heed China's primary concerns, such as the Taiwan issue."
Because of "interference of external factors" like US pressure, Xing cautioned against passing "wrong judgement" on China.
"Some are betting that the United States will win and China will lose in a scenario where the United States is pressuring China with all of its might. This is obviously a flawed assessment and a failure to comprehend the development of history, he said. "Those who bet on China's defeat will regret it, I can assure you of that,"
Requests for comment from Yoon's office and Seoul's foreign ministry were not immediately fulfilled.
Yoon has been cautious in the face of escalating US-China rivalry, but in April, Seoul and Beijing got into a heated argument over Yoon's remarks regarding Taiwan, which China asserts is its own territory.
In an interview with Reuters, Yoon stated that he was against attempts to change the status quo by force and that this was the cause of the escalating tensions around Taiwan.
According to Xing, South Korea's trade deficits have gotten worse as a result of its efforts to "decouple" from China, but if its confidence in the two countries' relations is restored, it will be able to "enjoy the bonus" from Chinese economic growth.
"The two countries have built an inextricable economic structure in which their industrial and supply chains are closely connected," he declared.