What The China-South Korea Visit Was Really About

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to South Korea was widely interpreted as a jab at North Korea, but what was the trip really about?
Posted at 11:15 AM, Jul 04, 2014

If you really wanted to be told what to think about the Chinese president's visit to South Korea, look no further than the Western media. 

"The visit will be seen as a snub to North Korea and Kim Jong-un." (Via CNN)

Chinese President Xi Jinping spent two days with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, and for the most part American talking heads are making it about North Korea. 

"Guess it's a relief to South Korea that the North's main ally, China, looks to be turning its back." (Via CNBC)

And yes, it's true that in the past Chinese leaders would visit ally North Korea before going to South Korea. But President Xi is still planning to visit the North. 

So despite the effort to label this a snub to the North's Kim Jong Un — notice how carefully China's state-run Xinhua words it:

Calling it the growth of a partnership between China and South Korea, the article never mentions North Korea — instead focusing on building peace and stability in the region. The only other country mentioned is Japan. 

Japan — which once colonized both China and South Korea — is widely seen as "beefing up its military." That Xinhua piece called that a "grave menace to regional stability." (Via RT)

So is the trip about North Korea or Japan? OR — as The New York Times suggests — the United States?

Side note — the U.S. has about 30,000 troops in South Korea. (Via Arirang News)

And the Times featured two experts who said both said Xi's visit to South Korea might actually be about trying to "drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States." 

In any case — China and South Korea do have a few things in common. In public speeches Presidents Xi and Park discussed a free trade agreement between the two countries. And they also both spoke out against North Korea's nuclear program.