Feb. 21 (UPI) -- A blunt editorial published in a Chinese state tabloid suggested South Korean conglomerate Lotte should abandon its businesses in the world's second-largest economy for supporting the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system THAAD.
The Global Times article published on Tuesday blamed Lotte for THAAD, which would be placed on one of the conglomerate's proprietary golf courses in central South Korea.
Beijing has continued to oppose the joint U.S.-South Korea decision, claiming THAAD's powerful radar could be used to monitor the Chinese military.
Washington and Seoul have pushed forward with deployment, citing North Korea's ongoing missile threats.
The unprecedented editorial that ran in the Global Times issued a warning to the South Korean company.
"If Lotte can't change its position, it must leave China," the article said. "Because of THAAD, the image of Lotte has almost fallen apart."
The South Korean company is known in China, Japan and Korea for its chain of upscale department stores, discount outlets and lifestyle brands.
Lotte has invested more than $8.7 billion in the Chinese market since 1993.
The Chinese editorial did not address the complications that would ensue from a protectionist policy that could create a business vacuum and add to local joblessness.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua also claimed Lotte's THAAD decision would harm Chinese people and the consequences of deployment would be serious.
Lotte has said it has not changed its position on THAAD deployment, after North Korea test-fired a midrange ballistic missile on Feb. 12.