South Korea THAAD deployment raises China concerns

A Chinese government official requested South Korea handle the issue "prudently."
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Jan. 29, 2016 at 11:33 AM
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SEOUL, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- China is weighing in on any future South Korea decision to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system on the peninsula, although Seoul's Defense Ministry and the Pentagon have yet to start formal negotiations on THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense.

Beijing's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told Yonhap Friday that the "Chinese government hopes [South Korea] will handle the matter prudently."

The interests of other nations should be taken into account, Hua said.

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported Seoul was moving toward THAAD deployment, and South Korean television network JTBC reported various ministries are coordinating a response.

Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said the government is reviewing the issue of THAAD deployment, and that its deployment would be useful.

A presidential Blue House official said THAAD should be an additional consideration to the need for tougher sanctions against North Korea, and an unidentified South Korea military official said Seoul has been considering THAAD deployment since June 2014, when Gen. Curtis Scapparotti, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, proposed the missile defense system to Seoul.

Speculation in South Korea is growing over key issues: where the missile defense system would be placed, and how the cost of deployment would be shared between the United States and South Korea.

The THAAD Radar, an X-Band active electronically scanned array, is at the core of the missile defense and emits electromagnetic waves, an issue that is raising questions in South Korea.

If deployed, the radar can command surveillance of an area that extends more than 1,200 miles from the peninsula.

Opposition from China, however, could mean radar surveillance could be limited to the peninsula and to North Korea.

Chinese analyst Zheng Jiyong of Fudan University said THAAD deployment could bring a "severe shock" to the security status quo that exists between China and the United States, as well as with Russia.

The issue would reach far beyond the issue of a nuclear North Korea, Zheng told South Korea press.

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