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China opposes deployment of U.S. stealth ship in South Korea

By
Elizabeth Shim
China says it is “watching closely” U.S. plans to deploy the USS Zumwalt, a multi-mission stealth ship, near the Korean peninsula. Image courtesy of U.S. Navy
China says it is “watching closely” U.S. plans to deploy the USS Zumwalt, a multi-mission stealth ship, near the Korean peninsula. Image courtesy of U.S. Navy

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- China voiced its opposition to a U.S. proposal to deploy the USS Zumwalt in the waters surrounding the Korean peninsula, a development that Beijing says it is "watching closely."

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Tuesday "all countries concerned should work toward military cooperation for the sake of peace and stability, and tensions should not be created."

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Lu added China is opposed to any measures that affect China's security interests, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

In January, Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, proposed deploying the United States' largest missile destroyer near Korea's southernmost Jeju Island.

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The $4 billion USS Zumwalt is a multi-mission stealth ship with a displacement of about 15,000 tons.

USS Zumwalt steams in formation with USS Independence on December 8, 2016 during the final leg of her three-month journey to her new homeport in San Diego. Photo by Ace Rheaume/U.S. Navy/UPI
The destroyer is capable of firing the SM-1, SM-2 and SM-6 missiles and can be equipped with a railgun or free-electron lasers.

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China has been flexing its military muscle in recent weeks near areas close to the Korean peninsula.

On Jan. 9, Chinese H-6 bombers flew over the waterways of the Korea Strait and entered the East Sea.

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Analysts have speculated the deployment was a response to Seoul's decision to deploy the U.S. missile defense system THAAD and Japan's defense of the Senkaku Islands, also claimed by China.

On Jan. 22 China commissioned its fifth Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyer into the North Sea Fleet, which maintains a presence in the Yellow Sea, adjacent to Korea.

On Tuesday, Chinese state tabloid Global Times issued an editorial expressing opposition to increased coordination between the United States and Japan.

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The editorial claimed the United States and Japan tested the SM-3 Block IIA missile to build a system of missile defense, not to deter North Korea but deter Beijing and Moscow.

"China and Russia can maintain their current strategic balance if they take decisive action to stop U.S. pursuit of the missile defense system," the editorial read.

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