Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with a delegation from South Korea’s largest opposition party, which is visiting Beijing for talks.
A group of seven lawmakers from the Minjoo Party of Korea started a three-day trip to China on Wednesday. The trip is meant to
ease tensions between the two countries aroused by the South Korean (ROK) government’s determination to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system despite China’s repeated opposition.
It was the second delegation that the Minjoo Party has sent to Beijing since August. Moon Jae-in, former leader of the party,
now tops media polls as a presidential candidate.
An early presidential race is expected after the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is involved in a corruption
Song Young-gil, who led the delegation, said the opposition party aims to play an active role in helping to overcome the difficulties and achieve
greater development of bilateral ties.
Ahead of the visit, Song told reporters in South Korea that the lawmakers would also inform Chinese officials of Moon’s position:
that the deployment of THAAD should be decided by the next administration.
Wang told the delegation on Wednesday that China understands the South Korea’s need to safeguard the security of the country and
its people, but “China is opposed to the damage to China’s strategic security
interests caused by forcing the deployment of THAAD”.
He urged Seoul to cherish the hard-won fruits of bilateral ties and find an appropriate solution through communication and
negotiation, “so that the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries innvarious fields will not be affected”.
ROK media have reported that China has taken a series of steps against South Korea businesses and entertainers in retaliation, but China has never confirmed it.
On Thursday, South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said the planned THAAD deployment is a sovereign and self-defense action in response to threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Yonhap News Agency
The South Korean Foreign Ministry also called in Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong on Thursday.
Shi Yongming, an Asia-Pacific studies researcher at the China Institute of International Relations, said THAAD deployment is of little help in protecting South Korea, and it only helps to defend Washington’s military bases there as well as guarding against China.
“The system, once deployed, will make Seoul a military tool and a strategic piece of Washington in East Asia,” he said.
Huang Youfu, a Korean studies professor at Minzu University of China, said uncertainty still remains regarding the
deployment of THAAD due to the division within the ruling party and the opposition of the Minjoo Party.
“If Moon is elected as the next president, it is likely that the deployment will be delayed indefinitely,” he said.