China’s Top Legislator to Meet With South Korean Leaders

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol was set to meet with China’s top legislator in Seoul on Friday, as South Korea seeks to maintain economic ties with Beijing while also strengthening its relationship with the United States.

Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, arrived in Seoul on Thursday as part of an international tour that has included stops in Mongolia, Nepal and Russia, where he told lawmakers that China “understands and supports” Moscow, including in the war in Ukraine.

In Seoul, Li is scheduled to meet with Yoon as well as the speaker of South Korea’s national assembly. Last month Yoon faced criticism for holding a phone call with visiting U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rather than meeting her in person.

“Yoon is clearly trying to stabilise Korea’s relations with China – but not at the expense of its relationship with the United States,” said Go Myong-Hyun, of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

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“The continued visits by high-ranking Chinese officials indicate that China, too, doesn’t want to allow its relations with Seoul to deteriorate further,” he added.

Li’s visit comes amid an uproar in South Korea over the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, recently signed by President Joe Biden.

South Korea says the act, which excludes electric vehicles (EVs) assembled outside of North America from tax credits in the United States, violates the spirit of the countries’ economic and security alliance, which Biden had pledged to strengthen.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of┬áState Wendy Sherman met with South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister┬áCho Hyundong in Washington on Thursday to discuss a range of bilateral issues, including forming a “consultative mechanism” to engage with Seoul as the Inflation Reduction Act is implemented, the State Department said in a statement.

(Reporting by Josh Smith. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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