South Korea scandal could affect THAAD, Chinese media says

China has been consistently opposed to the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Oct. 31, 2016 at 11:36 AM
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SEOUL, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- As South Korea grapples with a political scandal revolving around President Park Geun-hye, Chinese state media is revisiting the issue of THAAD deployment on the peninsula.

Chinese Communist Party newspaper People's Daily had stated on Saturday Park is experiencing a "major political crisis" that could mean the South Korean leader's position on THAAD is not guaranteed to lead to deployment.

"The [South] Korean people no longer know whether the decision to deploy THAAD was the will of President Park," the Chinese editorial stated.

China has been consistently opposed to the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system in South Korea, and has said THAAD is "a violation of China's strategic interests and is undermining the strategic mutual interest between China and the United States."

Beijing is concerned the powerful THAAD radar would be used by the United States to monitor China. The technology has a surveillance capability that extends 620 miles.

On Monday, multiple Chinese media outlets reported on the scandal involving Choi Soon-sil, a longtime acquaintance of the president, who is suspected of corruption involving two charitable foundations, acquiring state secrets from the presidential office, and influencing executive decisions.

China's state-owned news agency Xinhua stated in an editorial that the "road ahead for Park and the presidential Blue House is uncertain," and that "the world is watching as the Korean people's questions grow louder."

The Xinhua editorial said Park's "political legacy" was the deployment of THAAD, adding, "While in the short run there are no foreseeable changes to the THAAD placement policy, after the crisis any subsequent government would be facing the obstacle of this crisis."

Chinese media also stated the upcoming U.S. presidential election is yet another variable that could affect changes on the Korean peninsula.

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