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China's Xi says willing to help end rift with South Korea

China's Xi says willing to help end rift with South Korea

At a meeting here, Xi highlighted the importance of bilateral ties to the new South Korean Special Envoy for China, Lee Hae-chan, and hoped that Beijing and Seoul can "safeguard the hard won achievements made in the development of bilateral ties".

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday expressed his hopes for a prompt return to the "normal orbit" of relations with South Korea which have been strained by disputes over a United States missile shield, Seoul's special envoy said.

China has been infuriated by the USA deployment of an advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea, saying it was a threat to its security and would do nothing to ease tension with North Korea.

Lee said Thursday during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that South Korea fully understands China's concern over the deployment of THAAD, which has harmed the two countries' mutual trust and exchanges, Xinhua said. The deployment of the THAAD system, which is created to intercept short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles at the terminal incoming stage, has been criticized by Beijing as undermining China's security interests.

Lee met separately with other senior Chinese officials, who had more forceful words for the South Korean visitor.

South Korea has complained that some of its companies doing business in China have faced discrimination in retaliation for the THAAD deployment.

Shares in Lotte Shopping reversed earlier losses to rise 1.5%, while Hotel Shilla, South Korea's second-largest duty free store operator, rose 2.8%.

US President Donald Trump has called for "far stronger sanctions" on North Korea and warned last month that a "major, major conflict" with Pyongyang was possible.

Seoul and Washington have argued that the missile system is aimed at North Korean aggression, while China sees it as a threat to its own security because its radar can peer deep into northeastern China. His envoy for Russian Federation will leave next week.