SEOUL, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- South Korea and China officially opened a military hotline that is setting new standards for security cooperation between the two countries.
Seoul's Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Thursday he and his Beijing counterpart, Chang Wanquan, exchanged the first phone call on the hotline, South Korean news outlet Money Today reported.
Han said the establishment of the hotline also commemorates 23 years of China-South Korea diplomatic relations.
China is a traditional ally of rival North Korea, and Beijing sent troops to fight against U.S. and South Korean troops during the 1950-53 Korean War.
In recent years, however, Seoul and Beijing have cultivated closer ties, owing largely to increased trade between the two countries.
"The monumental establishment of a direct line is the result of close cooperation between our two defense authorities, and we believe it contributes to the improvement of bilateral relations and regional stability," Han said.
The South Korean defense minister added that he hoped the hotline would be used in matters of close cooperation.
The hotline is the third South Korea has established with partners in the region. Seoul also maintains lines of communication with the United States and Japan.
In his phone call with Chang, Han delivered a New Year's message for 2016, and pointed out Seoul and Beijing has continued to maintain diplomatic relations for more than two decades.
The hotline was agreed upon in July 2014, South Korean outlet Newsis reported. More details were discussed between Han and Chang during the third ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting in November.