- Having concluded the Korea-China-Japan Summit -
Departing Chengdu, I do some thinking on the return flight.
We are Koreans. We grew up writing in Hangeul and eating kimchi. Surrounded by powerful countries, we have endured hardships, but we have managed to maintain our identity and unique culture. We’ve also achieved a commanding economic status. We have gained the right to be proud of our country today.
We stand shoulder to shoulder with China, which is one of the world’s top two economies, and with Japan, which is the third-largest economic powerhouse. Combined, our three countries form one of the world’s three largest economic blocs, along with the EU and North America. Looking farther down the road, we represent an imposing region that is together ushering in the era of Asia.
Undeniably, contentious factors sometimes loom large over unfortunate chapters in history involving Korea, China and Japan. Nevertheless, we remain the closest of neighbors who share a longstanding history and culture. Our respective cultures appear different, yet we can sense a lot of similarities. Besides, we’ve all advanced together, assisted by a division of labor and collaborative system. Even as we look squarely back on history, we must continue to further our cooperation with an eye toward the future. No country can fare well alone. We all can prosper only when we advance together with neighboring countries.
Today, until the last minute, Korea, China and Japan strove to iron out our differences and settled on a vision of trilateral cooperation for the next decade. We agreed to significantly elevate the level of collaboration among our three countries. This effort will involve concrete collective action on such things as air pollution, healthcare and an aging population in order to improve the quality of people’s lives. At the same time, we will jointly take on the challenges of this age, namely protectionist trade policies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
I believe very productive progress was also made during the Korea-Japan summit with Prime Minister Abe. I’d like to see it inspire the peoples of both countries with hope. The Chinese and Japanese leaders agree on the importance of resuming talks between North Korea and the United States. I am grateful for their coordinated efforts to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Chengdu is a place steeped in a long history. Traces of the great Tang poet Du Fu reside within it, while Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun forged friendships and strove for a great cause here in “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.” The humanistic spirit shared by Korea, China and Japan puts people first. Going beyond trilateral cooperation, this spirit will become a driving force for changing the entire world. Our three countries have been neighbors for thousands of years. We must work more closely together, and our way forward must be to live well together through collaborative effort.