The recent deployment of a US missile system to South Korea not only poses a threat against North Korea, but also threatens the whole region, particularly China, experts say.
The US announced the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea on Monday.
Washington is taking steps “to defend against North Korea's ballistic missiles, such as through the deployment of a THAAD battery to South Korea," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Monday.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said “the US is actively engaged with its partners and allies in the region to address the threat posed by North Korea’s weapons programs.”
"This [THAAD deployment] is not meant to be a threat, and is not a threat to them or any other power in the region. It is a defensive system, and it is in place because of North Korea's provocative behavior," Toner said.
Experts, however, say that the US deployment of THAAD missile on the Korean Peninsula is as much a serious warning to China as it is a means to quell the possible threat raised by missile tests conducted by North Korea.
"China has signaled very clearly to the US over the last year or two it sees this [THAAD deployment] as a hostile policy toward Chinese security," Robert Ross, a professor at Boston College and associate with Harvard University's John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, said to US media published on Wednesday.
THAAD is equipped with a powerful detection system known as an X band radar that experts say would destabilize regional security and upset the region’s current military balance .
Regional powers Russia and China have both strongly criticized the deployment of the US missile system to South Korea.
“We are firmly opposed to the deployment of THAAD (missile system) in the Republic of Korea (ROK) by the US and the ROK,” China’s Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow was also opposed the THAAD deployment on the already volatile Korean Peninsula, Interfax reported on Tuesday.
Both countries have vowed to take proportionate measures to counter the new military threat posed by the US THAAD deployment.