Li, Abe end trip in contrasting manner

By: Yi Whan-woo

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang kept a tight schedule during his visit to South Korea, meeting businesspeople and visiting popular places, while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe remained low-key.

And the treatment they received from the Korean people showed a stark contrast _ Li was warmly welcomed by Koreans in public places, while rallies continued near the Japanese embassy protesting Abe’s views on history.

Li had a hectic schedule, meeting President Park Geun-hye as well as political and business leaders during his three-day trip from Saturday on the occasion of the trilateral summit among the leaders of South Korea, Japan and China, Sunday.

His visit was the culmination of developments in Sino-South Korean relations which have been at their highest level since Park took office in February 2013.

Abe focused only on the trilateral summit and then a bilateral summit with Park, Monday, without attending any other events. It was seen that he avoided making public appearance for security reasons amid lingering disputes between Seoul and Tokyo over historical issues.

On his first day of the trip, Saturday, Li held a bilateral summit with Park at Cheong Wa Dae and a welcome dinner hosted by the South Korean President.

The presidential dinner was part of the programs for Li’s official visit. Foreign heads of states or their envoys receive different levels of greetings from a host country depending on characteristics of their visits, such as state visits and working visits.

Li, Beijing’s second-in-command, joined the trilateral summit in replacement of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Chinese premier spent Sunday with Park and Abe at the summit held at Cheong Wa Dae. Li then joined two other East Asian leaders at a welcome dinner at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art’s Seoul gallery in Jongno-gu.

Li visited the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, Monday, where he was greeted by National Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa, Assesmbly’s vice speaker Jeong Kab-yoon and lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party and opposition parties.

Li also attended a forum organized by South Korean business leaders at The Shilla Hotel Seoul in Jung-gu to boost cooperation among South Korean and Chinese entrepreneurs.

He was joined by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn plus heads of the Seoul’s leading conglomerates. They included Park Yong-maan, chairman of Doosan Group and chief of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI); Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Group and its heir apparent; Koo Bon-moo, chairman of LG Group.

Abe made a working visit to Seoul and Park did not host a luncheon or dinner for him accordingly.

He was privately invited to a lunch by Japanese Embassy officials in Seoul amid protest from South Koreans, who asked him to sincerely apologize over Tokyo’s record of wartime sex slavery.

SOURCE: KOREA TIMES

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