Beijing, Moscow slam U.S. missile plans

U.S. could deploy anti-missile shield in response to North Korea’s satellite launch

February 08, 2016 10:28 pm | Updated September 02, 2016 12:55 pm IST - BEIJING:

North Koreans celebrate Sunday’s satellite launch in Pyongyang.

North Koreans celebrate Sunday’s satellite launch in Pyongyang.

China and Russia have slammed the possible deployment of an American anti-missile defence shield in South Korea following North Korea’s satellite launch.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, on Sunday stressed that China is “deeply concerned” about the decision by the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to start official negotiations on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. The THAAD system comprises advanced U.S. anti-missile defence batteries.

Analysts say that each THAAD missile battery would cost $1.3 billion and will be capable of covering half or two-thirds of South Korean airspace. “When pursuing its own security, one country should not impair other’s security interests,” said Ms. Hua. She stressed that the deployment of these weapons would escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula. In turn, this would undermine regional peace and stability, and set back efforts to address the current situation.

On Monday, China’s state-run daily Global Times escalated the attack on the decision by Seoul and Washington to start dialogue on the deployment of the THAAD system. In an editorial, the daily asserted, citing military experts, that “once THAAD is installed, Chinese missiles will be included as its target of surveillance, which will jeopardise Chinese national security”.

The write up pointed out China has been strictly opposed to the THAAD deployment in South Korea, and in the light of such opposition, South Korea had not deployed it so far.

“The abrupt attitude shift at a confusing moment caused by North Korea’s test of a long-range missile is a decision of no strategic vision. For the sake of its security, Seoul took an impetuous action, giving no consideration to the long-term strategic impact,” the editorial observed.

Will cause more trouble

The daily warned that the deployment “will not put an end to the vicious interaction of varied forces in the region, only causing more troubles to northeast Asia”.

China here has echoed Russia’s concerns, aired ahead of North Korea’s satellite launch. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency had quoted Alexander Timonin, Russia’s Ambassador to Seoul, as stating earlier this month that Moscow stood opposed to the deployment of the THAAD system as it could destabilise the region. Mr. Timonin pointed out that Russia and China share “nearly identical” views on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.

On the other hand, Washington is of the view that following North Korea’s nuclear test in January, the THAAD system would be required to protect the 27,000 American troops that have been deployed in South Korea.

The Yonhap write-up points out that China is reluctant to push the North too hard due to security concerns, including the possibility of an influx of North Korean refugees or the emergence of a U.S.-allied, unified Korea on its borders.

In Beijing, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin “lodged representations” over Seoul’s announcement of the decision during an urgent appointment with South Korea’s Ambassador to China Kim Jang-soo.

“China has also made clear China’s stance to the U.S. side through diplomatic channels,” Ms. Hua, the spokesperson, observed.

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