By Hong Soon-do, Beijing correspondent, AsiaToday
South Chungcheong governor Ahn Hee-jung, who visited Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province of Southwest China, said, "The exchanges between Chinese and South Korean local governments should continue despite conflicts over the THAAD missile defense system. Friends should be careful and have trust in each other especially in times of difficulty."
His statement came after meeting Beijing correspondents at "The Trilateral Local Governments' Forum on Three Rural Issues", which was held in Guiyang on Sept 17. "Although there are various national issues in the Seoul-Beijing or Seoul-Tokyo relations, I think that local governments should make exchanges."
|South Chungcheong governor Ahn Hee-jung stressed the importance of Seoul-Beijing trust in times of difficulty./ Guiyang, Guizhou province=Hong Soon-do|
The governor referred to the China-Japan-South Korea relations as friends of more than 5,000 years, and said, "I would like to tell all the leaders of South Korea and China not to lose the trust of a friend if some difficult problems come up." However, when asked about detailed solution for the THAAD issue, he didn't say much, saying, "Diplomacy should be discussed and decided among national leaders. It's not appropriate for the head of the local government to talk about it." He did not forget to emphasize the importance of continuous exchanges, saying, "The deputy governor of state affairs came here with visitors, since the event did not take place in Chungnam. But I came here on purpose thinking that trust should shine in times of difficulty.
The forum attracted attention by the relationship between Ahn and former Guizhou governor Chen Min'er, who are both regarded as the next generation leaders of South Korea and China, respectively. Chungnam and Guizhou had been selected as municipalities for urban exchanges between the two countries before the worsening of the bilateral relations. Since then, Ahn and Chen promoted friendship through mutual visits last year. Chen first made his visit to Chungnam in April to attend the "Guizhou Day" ceremony, which was established by Chungnam. Then Ahn visited Guizhou in November to attend the "Chungcheongnam-do Day" ceremony, which was set by Guizhou province.
Meanwhile, the 3rd Trilateral Local Governments' Forum on Three Rural Issues are held in Guizhou from Sept 16 to 18, including three agricultural sub-forums to promote government exchanges and cooperation among South Korea, China and Japan.