Walls and Windmills: “No Change” in Beijing’s Policies Toward Seoul

By | July 11, 2023 | No Comments

“When the winds of change blow, some build walls, others build windmills” goes the Chinese proverb. Foreign Chinese foreign minister and current Politburo member Wang Yi recently told former UN Secretary-General and current Boao Forum chairperson Ban Ki-moon that China’s policies toward the Republic of Korea have not fundamentally changed. In doing so, Beijing seems to be attempting to leverage the supposed lack of change as impetus for basing its relationship with Seoul on the progress of a windmill rather than the stagnation of a wall. Yet therein lies the issue. As per a previous Sino-NK translation, it is precisely the dearth of change in China’s stance toward the ROK – namely, the maintenance of a wolf warrior-style diplomatic stance – that has contributed to the downturn in Beijing-Seoul ties. 


China’s Wang Yi: “No Change in Policies Toward Korea… Let’s Overcome ‘Temporary Difficulties’”[1]


China’s most senior diplomatic figure Wang Yi, a member of the Communist Party of China’s Politburo, met former UN Secretary-General and current chairman of the Boao Forum Ban Ki-moon, and expressed hope that China and the ROK will overcome the temporary difficulties in their relationship. 

According to the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi met with Chairman Ban Ki-moon, who was visiting China for a meeting of senior-level officials at the first session of the “Forum on Global Action for Shared Development” on July 10, where he said that both China and the ROK have undergone an extraordinary journey during 30 years of diplomatic relations from which they have reaped unprecedented results, and that the two states should cherish and manage their relationship well. 

Furthermore, Mr. Wang said they should take their relationship to a higher level going forward and not let the relationship stagnate or degenerate, while insisting that China’s policies toward the ROK have not changed. 

Regarding this, Chairman Ban responded that China and the ROK should relate to each other as friendly neighbors that have a close relationship, and will continue to strive to develop Sino-Korean ties. 

The Chinese foreign ministry also stated that the two also exchanged opinions about their shared interest in issues such as the state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula. 

Mr. Wang said that China held Mr. Ban’s efforts to develop the workings of the UN and his important contribution to fostering international cooperation in high esteem, and that he hoped that Mr. Ban would continue to make an effort to actively exercise his influence as chairman of the Boao Forum to promote peace in Asia. 

In response, Mr. Ban expressed thanks for China’s support for his own role as UN Secretary-General and chairman of the Boao Forum, and praised China’s series of important international initiatives that have given strong impetus to global cooperation. 


Original article by Park Seok-ho. Translated by Anthony V. Rinna.


[1] Source: China’s Wang Yi: “No Change in Policies Toward Korea… Let’s Overcome ‘Temporary Difficulties’ [중국 왕이 “대 한국 정책 변화 없다…‘일시적 어려움’ 극복하자”], KBS News, July 10, 2023,  https://news.kbs.co.kr/news/view.do?ncd=7719900


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