|Foreign Minister Park Jin speaks during a press conference in Qingdao, China, Wednesday. Yonhap|
By Kang Seung-woo
Foreign Minister Park Jin reaffirmed, Wednesday, that the so-called "Three Nos" policy concerning the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in South Korea is not a commitment to China amid growing pressure from Beijing over the U.S. anti-missile defense system.
"I made it clear to the Chinese side that the THAAD deployment is a matter of our security and sovereignty against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats," Park said during a press conference in Qingdao, China.
Park and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, held talks, Tuesday, where they exchanged views on the THAAD issue, according to the both countries' foreign ministries.
The meeting, the second of its kind since Park took office in May, took place as the Chinese government had urged the new South Korean administration to uphold the Three Nos policy from the previous Moon Jae-in administration. The policy refers to no additional deployments of U.S. THAAD batteries, no South Korean integration into a U.S.-led regional missile defense system and no trilateral alliance with the U.S. and Japan.
However, Park told the National Assembly, last month, that the Yoon Suk-yeol administration will not follow the policy.
Hours after Park's press conference, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a press briefing that South Korea even pledged to restrict the operation of THAAD on the Korean Peninsula in addition to upholding the Three Nos policy, raising speculation that the two countries still remain far apart over the issue.
In response to Wang's remarks, the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement that Beijing's assertion that Seoul declared the Three Nos policy and also pledged to limit the THAAD operation, seem to point to the previous administration's position on the issue, reaffirming Park's earlier remarks from the press conference.
Following the ministerial meeting, the Chinese foreign ministry issued a press release saying that the ministers had an in-depth exchange of views and expounded their respective positions on THAAD, while stressing the need to take each other's security concerns seriously and to strive to properly handle the issue.
While apparently rejecting China's claims, however, Park said both sides had shared the view that the THAAD issue should not be a stumbling block to South Korea-China relations as the two countries are set to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties later this month.
Park was also said to have told Wang that THAAD is not and should not be the basis of relations between South Korea and China.
As for Seoul's decision to attend a preliminary meeting of the U.S.-proposed chip alliance, also known as Chip 4 or Fab 4, Park said he had explained to Wang that its decision was made in consideration of national interest and was not intended to exclude China. The platform is believed to contain Beijing's rising influence in global supply chains.
"Considering economic cooperation and economic interdependence, I told the United States that the Fab 4 should not be a platform to exclude China. In addition, the trade structures of the two countries are closely intertwined, so any exclusion of China through the chip partnership would not be feasible practically," Park added.