Chinese state media editorial warns South Korea over THAAD

A Chinese political scientist described Seoul as "high-strung and sensitive."
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Jan. 31, 2017 at 1:15 PM
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Jan. 31 (UPI) -- China's state tabloid issued an editorial rebuking South Korea for its joint decision to deploy a U.S. missile defense system on the peninsula.

Writing in the Global Times, Zhao Lixin, the director of a political science department at Yanbian University, described Seoul as "high-strung and sensitive" for reacting to Chinese economic policies that the Korean government suspects are part of a retaliatory response to THAAD deployment.

In August 2017, Seoul and Beijing will mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

The editorial warned Seoul the decision to place THAAD in South Korea would cost the country, adding, "Varied understandings about THAAD deployment have eroded the strategic trust between the two countries."

"The relationship was like a huge bubble that would soon burst. THAAD deployment, which so far appears to be irreversible despite strong objections from China and Russia, has steeply deteriorated bilateral ties."

The article issued on Monday also pointed out Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with a South Korean delegation in early January.

During the meeting, which took place after Wang refused to meet with South Korea's ambassador to Beijing, the foreign minister voiced his opposition to THAAD, and, according to Rep. Song Young-gil of South Korea's Minjoo Party, yielded a "tacit understanding" between the two sides that the boycott against K-Pop artists was in some part a response to the joint U.S.-South Korea decision.

The editorial added China cannot "completely freeze" ties with South Korea since Seoul "is irreplaceable strategically."

The United States and South Korea are aiming to deploy THAAD by July, but Beijing has expressed concerns that the powerful THAAD radar would be used to monitor China.

Seoul and Washington reached a bilateral decision to deploy THAAD in July 2016. At the time, the two countries agreed the missile defense system would be placed at its designated location by mid-2017.

More than half of South Koreans recently surveyed in a local Gallup poll said they are in favor of THAAD deployment. Some who oppose deployment have said they fear Chinese retaliation.

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