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Chinese ambassador to S. Korea asks for “increased cooperation” on 5G networks

A woman using her mobile phone walks past a vehicle covered in a China Unicom 5G advertisement in Beijing, China 17 September, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Stringer). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SEOUL, Nov 19, 2020, Hankyoreh. China’s ambassador to South Korea asked Seoul for more cooperation on the 5G network. China is thought to be indirectly pressuring South Korea to stay out of the US-led “Clean Network,” an initiative aimed at driving Chinese IT firms out of the international market, Hankyoreh reported.

“We hope to expand cooperation [with South Korea] in building new digital infrastructure, including the 5G network, the digital economy, and artificial intelligence,” said Xing Haiming, the ambassador, during an event at the Shilla hotel organized by the Chinese Embassy in Seoul on Nov. 18. Xing delivered the event’s keynote address, titled, “Assessing Chinese Governance in the New Era and Ways to Cooperate on Further Developing China-South Korea Relations in the Future.”

Xing had previously urged the two countries to bolster cooperation on the issues of 5G, artificial intelligence and big data in a seminar with the Federation of Korean Industries in April and in an interview with the People’s Daily Online in September.

Xing’s remarks on Wednesday are notable since they come before Joe Biden’s expected inauguration as the next president of the US.

“The Huawei issue is making it harder for China to develop its high-tech companies. China fervently desires cooperation with China in high-tech industries,” said Kim Han-kwon, a professor at the Korean National Diplomatic Academy.

“China’s message for South Korea is to cooperate with China and to stay out of the Clean Network, which the US hopes to use to isolate Huawei and ZTE,” said Cho Sung-ryul, a research consultant for the Institute for National Security Strategy.

In his address, Xing also addressed the possibility of Chinese President Xi Jinping visiting South Korea before the end of the year. “President Xi has selected South Korea as the first country to visit once the COVID-19 situation has stabilized, and that hasn’t changed,” the ambassador said.

This reconfirmed remarks made by Yang Jiechi, a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee Politburo in charge of foreign affairs, during his visit to South Korea in August.

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