Seoul says Beijing is confused about THAAD system

Minister says China wouldn’t be retaliating over deployment of US missile shield if it understood why South Korea needs the system

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 9:01pm

China is retaliating over Seoul’s agreement to host the US Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile shield because it does not understand that the system is aimed only at defending against North Korea, South Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam said on Thursday.

South Korean firms feel they are being retaliated against in China because of Beijing’s objections to the deployment of the anti-missile system, which China sees as a threat to its security.

China ready to neutralise THAAD, retired PLA general says

Lim, answering questions from members of parliament, said South Korea had explained to China the system was to defend against North Korea’s missile threat, but that China did not appear to fully understand that point.

Watch: US deploys THAAD missile defense system to South Korea

South Korean Defence Minister Han Min-koo told parliament that China’s concern about the THAAD system’s radar was unfounded.

“The THAAD system is the most minimum defence mechanism against North Korea’s nuclear missile threats. China has been overly assessing the radar and excessively protesting against its deployment,” Han said.

Why the real quarrel between Beijing and Seoul isn’t about THAAD

Beijing has complained strongly against the THAAD deployment, but has not officially said the government was pressuring South Korean businesses in China in retaliation.

Lim told lawmakers that Lotte Group had seen pressure from China, with several of its stores closed, while South Korea’s flight and tourism operators had also experienced discriminatory tactics from China.

“We have not made an official calculation on the financial damage that could potentially result from China’s actions, but if this continues it could have a significant impact,” the vice-foreign minister said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Tokyo on Thursday that China had a major role to play in reining in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, carried out in defiance of UN resolutions and sanctions.