BEIJING, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- China's opposition to the possible deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defense system in South Korea is mounting and overshadowing calls for tougher sanctions against North Korea.
Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui met with South Korean delegates in Beijing Tuesday to directly convey the government's objections to Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, a deterrent that could intercept North Korea missiles, South Korean television network SBS reported.
Beijing's state-owned CCTV also aired footage of a test launch of a long-range ballistic missile, the DF-21D, during the day of the meeting.
The Chinese missile is a powerful weapon that can strike warships, and is also known as the "carrier-killer."
Zheng's message to South Korea and the United States was also a warning. The senior official told reporters that Beijing opposes the deployment of THAAD, and that he hoped "relevant nations act carefully."
Cho Joon-hyuk, Seoul's Foreign Ministry spokesman, said South Korea is "well aware" of China's position, and that Seoul replied with a statement of its positions and "principles."
China's populist tabloid issued a strongly worded editorial, cautioning the U.S. military against the escalation of tensions in northeast Asia.
"If U.S. forces place THAAD [on the peninsula] they may have to contend with a bolstered Chinese military presence in the northeast," the editorial stated, adding that in such a scenario, the area could become very "strained."
South Korean news network YTN reported China's position on THAAD is overshadowing the substantial role Beijing could play in toughening sanctions against North Korea after Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear in January and launched a satellite in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Beijing has repeatedly said it favors stronger U.N. sanctions, but has also been vocal about resolving the North Korea issue through dialogue and negotiation.
North Korea has not responded to calls for dialogue or a return to the six-party talks.