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2017-11-26 17:13
President’s China trip is ill-timed amid lingering conflict 

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha met with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing, Nov. 22. During the meeting, they discussed ways to improve bilateral ties that have been strained over the dispute over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in Korea. When Seoul announced the decision to bring in the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in July 2016, China claimed it undermined its national security and strongly protested the decision. Since then, Korea's retail, travel and entertainment industries have suffered from retaliatory measures imposed by China.

The highlight of the Kang-Wang meeting is that both sides agreed on President Moon Jae-in’s visit to China in December. It is feared that the President’s visit to China will not yield any visible outcome in mending the two countries’ ties. It is an ill-timed decision for Moon to visit Beijing when China continues to pressure Korea over the deployment of the THAAD battery despite an agreement to mend bilateral ties last month.

The government said that the two countries’ THAAD conflict was settled through the Oct. 31 agreement, which calls for restoring ties in various sectors. Following the agreement, President Moon met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Vietnam, Nov. 12, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum. But it will be difficult for the two countries to normalize relations as the THAAD conflict between them is far from over.

After Kang’s meeting with Wang, the Chinese foreign ministry released a statement, urging Korea to “properly handle the THAAD issue.” “China values the ROK's stance of having no additional deployment of the THAAD system, not joining the U.S. anti-missile system and not developing a ROK-U.S.-Japan military alliance as well as its attitude of having no intention of harming China's security interests,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.

The statement showed that Beijing retains its opposition to THAAD and is continuing to meddle in our national security decisions. Some local media outlets reported that China has requested Korea to set up a shield against the THAAD radar. China has claimed that the radar could be used to spy on its military facilities and infringe upon its national security interests.

Beijing has no right to meddle in our sovereign decision to deploy THAAD, which is aimed only at dealing with North Korea.

Since there is still a gap between the two countries over THAAD, it is necessary for them to work this out through diplomatic and military channels from a long-term perspective.

In their recent meetings with Moon, Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reiterated their position on THAAD. Under these circumstances, a rushed visit by the President to China next month will be limited in improving bilateral relations.


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