Regional and global summits presented high-level platforms for China-South Korea engagement in November. The summitry showed that the relationship had returned with solidity with the resumption of international meetings and in-person exchanges. Although the Xi Jinping and Yoon Suk-yeol leaderships advanced diplomatic exchange, concerns emerged over enduring political and security constraints and growing linkages with the economic relationship. Kim Jong-un’s escalation of military threats, through an unprecedented number of missile tests this year, challenged Xi-Yoon bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. China-North Korea bilateral interactions, while brisk, primarily relied on Xi and Kim’s exchange of congratulatory letters around significant founding anniversaries, China’s 20th Party Congress, and expressions of condolences after the death of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. The UN Security Council’s failure to take unified action on North Korean threats prompted South Korea to voice frustration with China and expand cooperation with U.S. and Japanese partners. Such responses only reinforced concerns raised in recent leadership exchanges, and Korean domestic division over Yoon’s diplomatic strategies.
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