From China Brief:
World leaders, including PRC President Hu Jintao, offered congratulations to Lee Myung-bak following his election as South Korea’s next president on December 19, 2007. Hu’s message stressed his desire to expand “good neighborly and friendly relations” with South Korea and his hope that “strengthen[ed] coordination and cooperation on regional and international affairs” might “upgrade the all-round partnership of cooperation to a higher level and bring more benefits to both peoples and countries” (Xinhua, December 20, 2007). However, when Lee met with PRC Ambassador to the ROK Ning Fukui days after his electoral win, his statement that he wanted to “upgrade Korea-China economic relations as China is a critical trade partner for Korea” did not suggest that Sino-South Korean cooperation might be expanded beyond the economic area to include an enhanced political and security relationship, in contrast to groundwork laid by his predecessor, outgoing president Roh Moo-hyun (Korea Times, December 21, 2007).
Scott Snyder is a Senior Associate with The Asia Foundation and Pacific Forum CSIS.