By Ma Fei, People's Daily
Park Joon-yung, who served as the Governor of South Korea's South Jeolla province between 2004 and 2014, recently received an interview with People's Daily in Seoul, capital of South Korea, during which he shared his exchanges with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"In 2005, the second year of me acting as the Governor of South Jeolla province, I met with Xi, who was serving as the Party chief of China's Zhejiang province. Having a profound knowledge of the history of South Korea-China friendship, he quoted from a number of sources in our talk and stressed that to strive for a wealthy life for the people and social harmony was the correct direction for the future development of Northeast Asia. I was deeply impressed by his remarks," Park recalled, adding that the Chinese leader demonstrated a great foresight on regional issues.
In July 2014, Xi paid a state visit to South Korea as the Chinese President and delivered an important speech titled "Jointly Create a Beautiful Future of China-ROK Cooperation and Accomplish the Great Cause of Asia's Revitalization and Prosperity" at Seoul National University. Park was there and listened to the speech.
"President Xi greeted the students and faculty in Korean, which triggered warm applause and brought him closer to the South Korean public. In the speech, he cited many stories of friendship between the Chinese and South Korean peoples, striking a chord with the audience," Park said.
President Xi stressed that China is willing to be a partner of South Korea to achieve common development, be committed to regional peace, join hands to revitalize Asia and promote world prosperity, Park noted, adding that the Chinese President has charted the course for the development of China-South Korea relations.
The 75-year-old South Korean highly agrees with Xi's governance philosophy. "President Xi is a leader that came from the people. He always puts the people in the highest place," Park said.
During the interview, Park specifically spoke of the younger years of the Chinese President. "He did almost every work that was exhausting when he was dispatched to northern Shaanxi province under a campaign that saw tens of millions of urban educated youth live and work in the countryside. It was this hardship that made him extremely responsible for the people," Park told People's Daily.
Park said that Xi mentioned the life of the Chinese people in all conversations they had. "President Xi is quite concerned with farmers and migrant workers, and he asked me about South Korea's issues and experiences in this regard," Park noted.
As the leader of the Chinese people, President Xi always bears in mind the welfare of the Chinese people, Park said, adding that both the efforts made to promote common prosperity and the firm resolution to fight corruption reflect the Chinese President's people-centered development philosophy.
"President Xi's original aspiration to seek happiness for the people has never changed," Park said.
Park believes that the Belt and Road Initiative and the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind proposed by President Xi mirror China's future-oriented broad vision and the country's pursuit of peaceful development.
Under the current circumstances, no country is able to deal with challenges alone, and common prosperity remains a foundation for long-term peace and stability.
"President Xi has contributed Chinese wisdom and plans to tackling the common issues facing mankind," Park said.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and South Korea. Under joint efforts, the two countries have enjoyed rapid development of bilateral relations, becoming strategic cooperative partners.
"South Korea-China friendship is in line with the fundamental interests of the two countries and their peoples. The mutual assistance offered to each other by the two countries to tide over difficulties amid COVID-19 exactly illustrated their valuable friendship. I hope that as they celebrate the 30th anniversary of their diplomatic relations and under the guidance of the heads of state of the two countries, South Korea-China relations can develop better and faster, and constantly step onto new levels," Park said.