China, South Korea foreign ministers meet in Beijing

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha (left) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, on Nov 22, 2017.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha (left) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, on Nov 22, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - The foreign ministers of China and South Korea met on Wednesday (Nov 22) in Beijing as the two nations seek to improve ties strained by a US missile defence system.

The nations have been at loggerheads over the deployment in South Korea of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) system, which Seoul and Washington say is intended to defend against missile threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.

Beijing sees it as a threat to its own military capabilities. It has imposed a series of measures against South Korean firms and banned tour groups from going to the country.

China is South Korea's biggest trading partner and its measures have had a big impact on some of the South's biggest companies, including retail conglomerate Lotte - which provided a golf course used for the Thaad deployment - and carmaker Hyundai.

"China attaches great importance to South Korea's statement that deployment of the Thaad system will not damage China's security interests," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, referring to recent discussions between the two sides.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha said that Seoul hoped the two countries could "continue to endeavour to normalise relations in all areas" after fruitful encounters at recent Apec and Asean summits.

South Korean President Moon Jae In is expected to visit Beijing in December.