Strategic cooperation called crucial as he welcomes S. Korea’s president

China and the Republic of Korea are friendly neighbors and important forces in promoting regional and world peace, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday while meeting with visiting ROK President Park Geun-hye.

Xi welcomed Park to attend the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), saying that the people of China and the ROK helped each other in the fight against Japanese invaders and made great contributions to the World Anti-Fascist War.

The Europe and Asia Cooperation plan, proposed by the ROK government, is similar to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and China welcomes the ROK to participate in the Belt and Road projects as well as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Xi said.

China has always been committed to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and its peace and stability, and is opposed to all actions that might lead to tension, Xi said.

Park attached great importance to the strategic partnership between the ROK and China, saying that the ROK government is willing to enhance cooperation with China in all aspects.

The ROK hopes to work with China to denuclearize the peninsula, maintain peace in Northeast Asia and promote development of the region, she said.

Accompanied by a delegation of 156 businesspeople, Park is the first ROK president to attend a World War II anniversary celebration in China. It is the sixth summit between Xi and Park, who has visited China each year since 2013.

Park will attend the victory parade in Tian’anmen Square, which starts at 10 am on Thursday morning. She is scheduled to fly to Shanghai on Thursday afternoon for the reopening of the restored provisional Korean government building used during the Japanese occupation. She will also talk with ROK and Chinese businesspeople in Shanghai.

The ROK Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that a delegation of three military officials will attend the parade in a first for the two countries, according to the Seoul-based newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

Premier Li Keqiang, while meeting with Park on Wednesday afternoon, said that China would like to work with the ROK to boost the regional economy and develop the China-ROK strategic partnership.

Both sides should rely more on innovation and enhance cooperation in strategic industries including new energy, smart manufacturing and low-carbon technology, Li said.

The two countries should also make use of the China-ROK free trade agreement, seek to further develop the potential of their complementary economies, and promote cooperation in equipment manufacturing, science and technology, innovation and finance, Li said.

Wang Junsheng, a researcher on East Asian studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Park’s visit is based on the common interest in maintaining peace in Northeast Asia.

“The relationship between the two countries has entered the best period ever,” he said. “China and the ROK can contain Japanese right-wing forces and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

Zhang Liangui, a researcher of Korean studies at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that Park’s visit is expected to create a good atmosphere for the detailed implementation of the free trade agreement, which was signed on June 1.

According to the agreement, the ROK will eliminate tariffs on 92 percent of all exports from China within 20 years, while China will abolish tariffs on 91 percent of all ROK goods.

China is the ROK’s biggest trading partner as well as its biggest export market, with bilateral trade totaling $235.4 billion last year, customs figures show. The ROK has set a goal of reaching $300 billion in bilateral trade this year.

The ROK is also one of China’s major foreign investors, with investment of $1.6 billion in the first quarter of this year alone.