August 11, 2022 12:38
China's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday claimed that South Korea pledged to abide by the "three no's" it had committed itself to over the stationing of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the U.S. here.
The Moon Jae-in administration promised Beijing in 2018 no additional deployment of THAAD batteries, no South Korean integration into a U.S.-led regional missile defense system, and no trilateral military alliance with the U.S. and Japan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters, "China attaches importance to the 'three no's' stance of the South Korean government," suggesting that the "stance" was confirmed by Foreign Minister Park Jin when he met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Qingdao on Tuesday.
But there were no official reports here that the new government of President Yoon Suk-yeol committed itself to the three no's in the meeting.
In fact, Park had told reporters on return from China that the three no's are "neither a [formal] agreement nor a promise."
Official government statements here showed the two ministers carefully stepping around each other while asserting that they will discuss the issue further "to prevent it becoming a stumbling block."
Beijing has insisted that the three no's were pledges made by the Moon administration in hopes of ending an unofficial Chinese boycott in 2017.
China fears that the THAAD battery's powerful radar could be used by the U.S. to spy on its military activities in the region, but experts view that as shadow-boxing to bolster its clout in the region.
Seoul insists the THAAD battery is here purely to defend the country and particularly the U.S. Forces Korea from North Korean missile attacks.
Stationed in southwestern South Korea in April of 2017, the THAAD battery has only been partially operating for the last five years while the Moon administration dragged its heels over clearing access to the site. The Yoon government has pledged to put it on a normal footing in a gesture affirming its commitment to the alliance with the U.S.
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