As political tensions between South Korea and China ease, Kia is launching a new model onto the Chinese market.

The Korea Herald reports that it has released an upgraded Forte subcompact in China.

The report said a trilateral venture among Kia, Yueda and Dongfeng has unveiled the New Forte at a Hyundai Motor Group R&D centre in Yentai, China. The 1.6-litre car is equipped with a six-speed automatic or manual transmission as well as a voice-recognising navigation system developed by Chinese tech giant Baidu, the company said in a statement.

Hyundai and sister brand Kia have both been hit with plunging sales in China due to a diplomatic spat between Beijing and Seoul caused by the planned deployment of a US anti-missile system in South Korea.

The Korea Herald notes that in the January-September period, Kia's sales in China halved to 212,677 vehicles from 423,688 units a year earlier.

However, the report says that Seoul and Beijing have recently agreed to improve bilateral ties.

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