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U.S. missile defense system THAAD draws Chinese scrutiny to South Korea

A Chinese diplomat unexpectedly raised concerns about a U.S. missile defense system that could be deployed in South Korea.

By Elizabeth Shim
The U.S. missile defense system THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, is opposed by Beijing and Moscow because of radars that extend for 621 miles. The technology could enhance U.S.-South Korea surveillance capacity. Courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense
The U.S. missile defense system THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, is opposed by Beijing and Moscow because of radars that extend for 621 miles. The technology could enhance U.S.-South Korea surveillance capacity. Courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense

SEOUL, March 16 (UPI) -- An anti-ballistic missile system the U.S. military seeks to deploy in South Korea is creating friction between South Korea and China, South Korea's largest neighbor and key trading partner.

The U.S. missile defense system THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, is opposed by Beijing and Moscow because of radars that extend for 621 miles. The technology could enhance U.S.-South Korea surveillance capacity, and the system can intercept missiles close to their point of origin, the Korea Joongang Daily reported.

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In a meeting between top Chinese and South Korean diplomats, China unexpectedly raised concerns about the U.S. defense system on South Korean soil, but the South Korean foreign ministry said no definitive response was given.

Joongang reported an unnamed South Korean foreign ministry official had said the U.S. had not yet made a request to send a THAAD battery to South Korea, but Yonhap reported an unnamed South Korean military official had said the U.S. plans to deploy THAAD in the case of an emergency.

Ji-Young Lee, a professor of international relations at American University, said at a panel in Washington Monday China could use the U.S. plan as an excuse to build its own missile defense system, reported Yonhap.

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