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Seoul opens China trade offices near North Korea

By
Elizabeth Shim
South Korea opened a new trade office in the Chinese city of Harbin (pictured), and a second office in Changchun, China. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
South Korea opened a new trade office in the Chinese city of Harbin (pictured), and a second office in Changchun, China. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 25 (UPI) -- South Korea's top diplomat to China said new trade offices in the world's second-largest economy could help Seoul prepare for future changes in North Korea during an opening ceremony on Wednesday.

Jang Ha-sung, a former policy chief to President Moon Jae-in, said the new offices of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, including in the city of Harbin in Heilongjiang Province, could help South Korean businesses take advantage of new opportunities, Yonhap reported.

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"If we anticipate the possibility of future changes in North Korea, the strategic potential of Heilongjiang is much greater," the South Korean ambassador to Beijing said.

Harbin is a historical city at the crossroads of trade routes that extend from China to Russia. It was a major hub of commerce prior to World War II, when Japan annexed Manchuria.

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Jang said Wednesday Heilongjiang's population of 40 million people represents an important hub for South Korean businesses and is a "point of contact" at the intersection of Chinese and South Korean policies: Beijing's Belt and Road initiative and Seoul's New Northern Policy.

Earlier on Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly, Moon highlighted South Korea's ambition to connect the peninsula to Eurasia.

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"The vision of an East Asian Railroad Community in which six Northeast Asian countries and the United States take part could also become reality," he said.

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The South Korean leader also said the Korean Peninsula should "evolve into a bridging nation that connects the continent and the ocean and facilitates peace and prosperity."

China is South Korea's largest trading partner. In 2018, two-way trade surpassed $300 billion.

Jang said the Chinese market is quickly changing, and South Korea should seek new models of cooperation.

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"In the past it was 'Made in China,' in the future the model will evolve to 'Made with China'," Jang said, referring to domestic changes there.

In early September, South Korea released a blueprint for a proposed railroad that would involve North Korea, China, Russia, Mongolia, Japan and the United States, according to Hankyoreh.

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