President Moon Jae-in spoke with President Xi Jinping of China on the phone from 5:28 pm to 6:00 pm on February 20.
During their 32-minute telephone conversation, the two leaders exchanged views on issues of mutual interest, including response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
With regard to the spread of COVID-19, President Moon began by conveying condolences for the victims of the virus in China. He also conveyed his appreciation to the Chinese government for its active cooperation in the process of bringing Korean nationals residing in China back home by charter flights. In addition, President Moon requested continued interest and support from the Chinese government in terms of protecting Koreans residing in China and assisting the activities of Koreans doing business there.
President Moon went on to note that, “since the difficulties that China faces can be regarded as our own, the Korean Government intends to help our closest neighbors’ efforts in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak even in a small way.” President Moon added, “I believe that this disaster will be successfully overcome through the concerted efforts of the Chinese people rallying behind President Xi.”
In reply, President Xi said that he was very pleased to have the phone call with President Moon, and that he was deeply grateful to President Moon for calling him to express sympathy and support for China’s endeavors to combat COVID-19.
President Xi explained the current efforts of the Chinese government in responding to COVID-19 and added that the Chinese people have now shaken off initial fear and are hopeful of overcoming the epidemic. He went on to say that a friend in need is a friend indeed and that such friends take care of each other. President Xi expressed his gratitude to the Korean Government and those from all walks of life for devoting attention, conveying consolation as well as providing significant help and support.
Moreover, President Xi thanked President Moon, saying that he gains great strength through their conversations on the phone. He also noted that both countries are responding to a difficult challenge by working together and are weathering the storm through active cooperation as close neighbors. President Xi continued that he was particularly moved by how President Moon praised China’s efforts and equated China’s hardship to Korea’s own.
The two leaders agreed to share respective experience in clinical treatment and strengthen cooperation between quarantine authorities going forward.
President Xi said that China has accumulated significant clinical treatment experience during its month-long fight against the virus and is willing to share what it has learned. President Moon replied, “since Korea is also making all-out efforts to wipe out COVID-19, I am looking forward to sharing information and working together to put up a joint response between the two countries. Since China possesses substantial clinical experience, sharing information with Korea’s quarantine authorities would be very helpful in terms of exterminating the virus.”
With regards to the issues related to the Korean Peninsula, the two leaders agreed that it is imperative that North Korea and the United States resume dialogue, and that Washington and Pyongyang must work to narrow the differences in their views.
President Xi expressed active support towards President Moon’s message for peace on the Korean Peninsula. President Moon stressed that if the two Koreas cooperate with each other, it can create a virtuous cycle that facilitates dialogue between North Korea and the United States.
Regarding President Xi’s proposed visit to the Republic of Korea, the two leaders agreed to push ahead with the plan as originally planned during the first half of this year and coordinate more specific schedule through their respective Foreign Ministries.