BEIJING - The President of China on Friday assured the new South Korean Special Envoy for China that he is willing to normalize relations between the two countries following tensions over the installation of the anti-missile system THAAD in South Korea last month.
At a meeting in Beijing on Friday, Xi Jinping highlighted the importance of bilateral ties to Lee Hae-chan, and hoped that China and South Korea can "safeguard the hard-won achievements made in the development of bilateral ties," according to official news agency Xinhua.
At the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi called urged both sides "to consolidate the mutual political trust and properly handle divergence on the basis of mutual understanding and mutual respect".
Lee, a newly appointed special envoy for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, met with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on Thursday, and urged Seoul to eliminate any obstacles affecting bilateral ties, particularly the US anti-missile system THAAD.
THAAD has been put into operation in the South Korean territory in case of a potential attack by North Korea, amid a recent escalation of tensions in the peninsula.
China, like Russia, opposes the installation of the system as it fears its sophisticated radars can pick up information from its military bases and offer it to Washington.
The installation of the THAAD has resulted in an unofficial boycott of South Korean companies operating in China, including the supermarket chain Lotte, which had provided land in South Korea for the installation of the THAAD.
In addition, there have also been a decline in Chinese sales of South Korean car manufacturers Hyundai and Kia, as well as other protests.