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South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during the Global Fund's Seventh Replenishment Conference on Sept. 21, in New York.Evan Vucci/The Associated Press

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is using an official visit to Canada to try to gain access to Canadian critical minerals that could bolster the Asian country’s high-tech and manufacturing industries as it seeks to reduce dependence on China.

In the first official visit of a South Korean leader to Canada in eight years, the recently elected Mr. Yoon will meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the next two days. Top of the agenda is how best to counter China in the race to safeguard global supply chains. The Asian economic powerhouse is also keen to purchase Canadian liquified natural gas (LNG) when it becomes available for export.

“We will explore ways to maximize our potential co-operation in maintaining stable and resilient supply chains and in advanced technologies, like AI [artificial intelligence] at the core of digital innovation,” Mr. Yoon said in written responses to questions posed by The Globe and Mail.

“Key minerals have grown in importance, so supply chain co-operation on them is expected to pave the way for greater trade in cutting-edge industries,” he added.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s dominance of critical rare earth minerals, countries around the world are looking at ways to improve supply chains and secure the minerals and energy resources to protect their economies.

Mr. Yoon is the second world leader to come to Canada looking to buy natural gas and critical minerals in recent months. In August, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz led a trade delegation to find alternative sources of critical minerals for Germany’s auto sector as it transitions to battery-powered vehicles. Mr. Scholtz also expressed interest in buying Canadian liquified natural gas, provided that LNG facilities could be built on the East Coast.

South Korea also wants to buy Canadian natural gas when an LNG facility is completed in 2025 on the B.C. coast. Right now, Canadian natural gas is shipped mainly to the United States because of the lack of LNG facilities to ship to international customers. Environmental and regulatory hurdles to pipeline construction have discouraged new LNG terminals on Canada’s Atlantic coast.

“Korea is keenly interested in securing more liquified natural gas suppliers through the construction of LNG facilities on Canada’s West Coast,” Mr. Yoon said.

South Korea, which is home to two of the world’s biggest automakers, Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp., sees electric vehicles, rechargeable batteries and semiconductors as key to economic growth. The President told The Globe that Korean businesses that produce electric-vehicle battery components have been investing in new manufacturing facilities in Canada.

Mr. Yoon, who assumed office in May after winning the election in March, has taken a harder line toward China than his predecessor, Moon Jae-in. He agreed to Seoul joining the 14-country Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, led by the Biden administration to develop an economic counterbalance to China. Canada has not joined this group.

Mr. Yoon also agreed to attend preliminary talks for a technology alliance known as “Chip 4″ with the U.S., Japan and Taiwan, one of the world’s largest producers of microchips and semiconductors.

When asked about concerns of the U.S. and other Western powers about Beijing’s increasingly belligerent actions in the Indo-Pacific, Mr. Yoon said it’s essential for China to “contribute to the peace and prosperity” in the region while “fulfilling its responsibilities as a member of the international community.”

Tensions between China and Taiwan flared in early August after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei. Beijing encircled Taiwan with warships and conducted live-fire drills that sent ballistic missiles over the northern part of the island. The menacing conduct was the largest scale of such exercises to date. China says it plans to conduct similar exercises in the future and Taiwan has accused Beijing of trying to normalize military operations increasingly closer to the island.

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Mr. Yoon said Seoul is closely monitoring developments: ”Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are vital to the peace and prosperity of not only the Republic of Korea but also the entire region.”

He said Seoul is “making every possible diplomatic effort to alleviate the tensions and sustain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait while maintaining close communications with related parties of the region.”

Mr. Yoon did not meet Ms. Pelosi when she came to Seoul after her high-stakes visit to Taiwan last month. His decision led to speculation that he was trying to avoid offending China, which claims Taiwan as its own and firmly opposed Ms. Pelosi’s visit.

“Our two sides already had an understanding that it would be difficult for me to meet Speaker Pelosi at the time of her visit to Korea since it coincides with my summer vacation,” Mr. Yoon said, but noted that he had a “long and fruitful” conversation by phone with the top Congressional leader.

During his visit to Canada, Mr. Yoon said he and Mr. Trudeau will share ideas on Indo-Pacific strategies that both countries are drawing up.

Many of Canada’s major allies, including other Group of Seven countries, have already publicized their own strategies. The U.S. Indo-Pacific policy, unveiled in February, says China is using all of its economic, military, technological and diplomatic might to become the dominant player in the region.

Vincent Rigby, the former national-security adviser to Mr. Trudeau, said the China threat has to be acknowledged in Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy. “We are having security interests threatened by China in the Indo-Pacific, and at home, so we need to do something,” he said in a recent interview.

Jonathan Berkshire-Miller, director of the Indo-Pacific Program and senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, said Russia’s energy cutoff to Europe over the war in Ukraine has been a “glaring flashing red symbol” for South Korea of what could happen in Asia.

“Korea has relied too much on China and they are realizing that dependency doesn’t make much sense,” he said. “We need to find ways to speed up, whether it’s LNG or critical minerals, for our Indo-Pacific partners.”