South Korea's political parties welcomed the agreement between Seoul and Beijing to extend their currency swap deal Friday as an opportunity to defuse tensions over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system to Korea and enhance mutual trust.
The two sides agreed to renew the arrangement worth 64 trillion won (US$55 billion) this week amid growing concerns that the diplomatic feud over the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system could stymie their financial cooperation.
Bank of Korea Gov. Lee Ju-yeol and Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon made the announcement on the extension in Washington on Thursday (local time), on the sidelines of the meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors. The announcement came three days after the deal expired.
"We hope that mutual cooperation between South Korea and China will further strengthen on the occasion of the extension agreement," Kim Hyun, the spokeswoman for the ruling Democratic Party, told reporters.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party called on Beijing to deal with economic cooperation separately from the security issue.
"We hope that the two countries will cooperate closely in the economic realm from the standpoint of enhancing the wellbeing of both countries' citizens and their mutual economic development," Jeong Yong-ki, the party spokesman, said.
Beijing has long opposed the THAAD installation, saying its powerful radar system could be used to spy on China's military movements. Seoul and Washington claim that the defensive system only targets North Korea.
The THAAD battery has been "temporarily" deployed to the southern county of Seongju. Seoul plans to make a final decision on the deployment after it finishes an environmental impact assessment, which it claims is a necessary domestic procedure.
Many believe the deployment would become permanent in the end, given the potential negative ramifications on the Seoul-Washington alliance that any cancellation of the installation would bring about. (Yonhap)