China: U.S. missiles in S.Korea will 'seriously damage' regional security

By AFP   July 8, 2016 | 10:30 am GMT+7
China: U.S. missiles in S.Korea will 'seriously damage' regional security
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test. Photo by Reuters

China says strongly opposed to the missile defence deployment use in South Korea.

The deployment of a U.S. missile defence system in South Korea would "seriously damage" regional security in northeast Asia, China said Friday, adding it strongly opposed the move.

The deployment of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) system announced by the U.S. and South Korea would "seriously damage the strategic security interests of countries in the region including China", Beijing's foreign ministry said in a statement posted online.

"China strongly urges the U.S. and South Korea to stop the 'THAAD' anti-missile system deployment process," the statement said, adding the system would not aid the "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

China is North Korea's largest trading partner and has been its key diplomatic protector for decades. But relations have soured over Pyongyang's nuclear tests and long-range missile launches, with Beijing supporting U.N. sanctions.

Still, analysts say it is concerned over any build up of US power on its doorstep, and values Pyongyang as a strategic bulwark.

Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the importance of "friendly relations" to a visiting North Korean official last month, even after the envoy reportedly told Chinese officials Pyongyang would continue with its internationally condemned nuclear program.

The U.S. and South Korea began talks on deploying the THAAD system to the Korean peninsula in February, when the North launched a long-range rocket following a fourth nuclear test in January.

They announced Friday that they had agreed to install it.The U.S. and South Korea announced Friday that they had reached an agreement to deploy an advanced missile defence system in the South in the face of growing threats from the North. 

"When the THAAD system is deployed to the Korean peninsula, it will be focused solely on North Korean nuclear and missile threats and would not be directed towards any third party nations," it said.

The two allies began talks on deploying the U.S. THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) system to the Korean peninsula in February when the North launched a long-range rocket following a fourth nuclear test in January.

"Based on these consultations, the (South) and the U.S. made an alliance decision to deploy THAAD... as a defence measure to ensure the security of the (South) and its people," the defence ministries of the two countries said in a joint statement.

It did not reveal exactly when and where in the South the system would be deployed, saying the two nations were in the final stage of selecting a potential venue.

The plan to deploy the powerful anti-missile system, which fires projectiles to smash into enemy missiles, has irritated China and Russia which earlier described it as a bid to flex U.S. military muscle in the region.

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