China willing to mend ties with South Korea, Xi tells special envoy


China wants to put ties with South Korea back on a "normal track", President Xi Jinping said on Friday, but Beijing also urged Seoul to respect its concerns and resolve tensions over the deployment of a US anti-missile system that it opposes.

Yang made the comments in a meeting with Seoul's envoy to China Lee Hae-chan, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Such moves underscore a willingness on the part of China's Communist Party leaders to fan the flames of anti-South Korea sentiment, said Korea expert Sung-Yoon Lee of Tufts University in MA. South Korea and the U.S. say it is necessary to guard against North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons activities that threaten South Korea, Japan, U.S. Lee added that he will deliver that message when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Lee earlier said Moon had sent him to China to keep communications open "at a critical time".

North Korea has justified its latest long-, medium-range ballistic missile test-firing as "routine work to raise nuclear capability for self-defence", rejecting the UN Security Council's condemnation.

Trump has said "a major, major conflict" with North Korea is possible and all options are on the table but that he wanted to resolve the crisis diplomatically, possibly through the extended use of economic sanctions.

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Under the leadership of third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un, North Korea has been speeding up its pursuit of a decades-long goal of developing nuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching the USA mainland.

Since the beginning of the year, relations between Beijing and Seoul have soured over the deployment of a United States missile defense system - THAAD - in South Korea. He urged Beijing to end the difficulties Korean businesses in China are experiencing due to an unofficial boycott.

Wang on Thursday reiterated calls for its dismantling. Although he has sometimes criticized the THAAD deployment, Mr. Moon has not said he will remove it.

Beijing has maintained its hard line, and in an editorial on Thursday, the Communist Party newspaper Global Times said China's opposition "cannot be traded for the new government's friendly posture toward China".

CD REV's Wang Zixin told The Associated Press that the group hopes to rally Chinese worldwide against the deployment of THAAD and demonstrate China's "tough stance" on the issue. "Seoul needs to make a choice between deploying THAAD and resuming Sino-South Korean relations".