China Says THAAD Undermines Regional Security Balance

  • By Roh Suk-jo

    July 25, 2019 11:34

    China in its annual defense white paper on Wednesday said the U.S.' Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery in South Korea "has seriously undermined" the balance and security interests of the Asia-Pacific region.

    The white paper was published only a day after Chinese warplanes again buzzed Korea's Air Defense Identification Zone without warning.

    The Moon Jae-in administration agreed with the Chinese government in October 2017 that it will not permit the deployment of any more THAAD batteries here.

    China fears that the THAAD battery's powerful radar will be used to spy on its military maneuvers. "The United States reinforces its alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, expands military presence and intervention in the region, thus complicating the regional security," the white paper said. It added that the "deployment of the U.S. THAAD missile systems to South Korea has seriously undermined the strategic regional balance and strategic security interests of regional countries."

    Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian speaks to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday. /AP-Yonhap

    Braving harsh criticism, the government here made the "three No's" pledge to China in 2017 to end an unofficial Chinese boycott, but now the issue is rearing its head again.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping also mentioned it when he met President Moon Jae-in at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan last month and said he hopes Seoul will "consider measures" to resolve the issue.

    Moon responded by saying that there would be no further need for the THAAD battery once North Korean "denuclearization is solved."

    The government here did not comment on the white paper. One diplomatic source in Beijing said, "China jabbed South Korea in its weak spot at a time when it faces multiple problems" including a halt in dialogue with North Korea, diplomatic dispute with Japan and pressure from the U.S. to join its military adventures in the Gulf and South China Sea.

    Shin Beom-chul at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies said, "The naïve China policies of the Moon Jae-in administration are starting to backfire. To avoid becoming the victim of Chinese bullying, the government must come up with realistic responses." 

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