THAAD Row Looms Over Korea-China Summit

  • By Jeong Woo-sang

    December 12, 2017 10:06

    President Moon Jae-in and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will not issue a joint statement after they meet in Beijing on Thursday due to differences over the U.S.' deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery here, Cheong Wa Dae said Monday.

    There will also be no joint press conference after the summit.

    China is gradually ending an unofficial boycott of Korean goods and services over the THAAD deployment, which it believes is intended to hold its military power in the region in check.

    The last time South Korea and China failed to issue a joint statement after a summit was in 1994, when President Kim Young-sam was in office and the North Korean nuclear crisis had just erupted.

    Moon Jae-in /Newsis

    Moon is traveling on a state visit at Xi’s invitation, but China seems reluctant to roll out the full red carpet. The Korean government strove hard to normalize strained ties this year, which marks the 25th anniversary of bilateral relations.

    A senior Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters, "No joint statement will be issued as the two countries are not in a position to put forward unified positions on issues" including THAAD.

    China apparently wanted to reflect its opposition to the THAAD deployment in the joint statement and called on South Korea to state that it was "aware" of this. But Seoul declined.

    "It is not desirable to reflect disagreements about THAAD in the joint statement," the official said. "But a joint statement that does not mention THAAD could cause problems for the Chinese government."

    Korea deems the dispute to have been resolved by an Oct. 31 agreement to normalize ties, but Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the state media have been calling on Seoul to stay out of the U.S.-led missile defense system and to refrain from deploying additional THAAD batteries and forging a trilateral military alliance with the U.S. and Japan.

    Instead, each side will pass out press releases after the summit.

    The two leaders will discuss "ways to improve regional and global peace, security and development including means to peacefully resolving the North Korean nuclear issue," said another Cheong Wa Dae official.

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