S. Korean mayors, provincial governors visit Beijing for rare meeting with Chinese counterparts
SEOUL, Local governments of South Korea and China are moving to step up their bilateral exchanges in wide-ranging areas, including tourism as well as climate and the environment, after years of conflict over the deployment of an American missile defense system, dubbed THAAD, in South Korea.
In addition to the Chinese government's moves to ease tensions over THAAD, the second conference of South Korean and Chinese metropolitan mayors and provincial governors, set to open in Beijing on Tuesday, is expected to provide fresh momentum for brisker bilateral cooperation, officials here said Monday.
Mayors and governors of seven South Korean local governments -- Seoul, Daegu, Sejong, South Chungcheong Province, South Jeolla Province, North Gyeongsang Province and Jeju Province -- departed for China early this week to attend the Beijing conference, which will also bring together heads of 12 Chinese provinces and metropolitan cities.
The two countries held the first conference of provincial governors and mayors in Incheon, South Korea, in 2016 to help stimulate bilateral cooperation and exchanges.
A file photo taken in June 2016 shows the opening ceremony of the first conference of South Korean and Chinese provincial governors and metropolitan mayors in Incheon. (Yonhap)
The municipalities of Seoul and Beijing held a joint forum on climate and environment cooperation in the Chinese capital on Monday and agreed to jointly study ways to reduce fine dust in the two cities.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, now on a four-day visit to China, is to give a speech at Peking University Monday afternoon and preside over the provincial governors' conference on Tuesday.
According to the informed officials, this year's Beijing conference will focus on practical exchange and cooperation measures to improve air quality.
Jeju Gov. Woo Hee-ryong plans to introduce his province's "Carbon Free Island 2030" project, which calls for securing all electric power from renewable energy and replacing all cars with electric vehicles by the target year to build an "island of energy independence."
South Korean provincial governors and mayors are also expected to use the Beijing conference as an opportunity to attract Chinese capital and tourists and sign a sisterhood agreement, the officials said.
Lee Cheol-woo, governor of North Gyeongsang Province, held an investors relations meeting in Beijing on Monday and arranged a meeting between 15 provincial manufacturers of cosmetics, food, household appliances and silver goods and potential Chinese buyers.
Yang Seung-jo, governor of South Chungcheong Province, plans to sign an investment contract with a Chinese polysilicon recycling company and a Chinese pharmaceutical company. Yang's province will sign a sisterhood agreement with China's Liaoning Province on Tuesday.
Kim Yeong-rok, governor of South Jeolla Province, plans to deliver an address at Chinese Agricultural University in Beijing on Monday to explain his province's future agricultural policies.
Separately from the Beijing conference, Busan Mayor Oh Geo-don plans to visit Shanghai from Dec. 6-7 to discuss ways to expand economic and cultural exchanges.
Source: Yonhap News Agency