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‘We cannot ignore US missile deployment in South Korea’: China

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is seen in Seongju, South Korea.(Photo by Reuters)

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman says Beijing cannot ignore US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea as it undermines China’s strategic security.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Friday that Beijing could not ignore the deployment of the US missile defense shield in South Korea and expressed hope that Seoul could “properly handle” the issue, which, according to Seoul, can never be subject to negotiations.

“China has always respected South Korea’s sovereignty and understood its security concerns, but the US deployment of THAAD missile systems in South Korea undermines China’s strategic security, and Beijing cannot ignore this,” Wang told a briefing.

Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and South Korea discussed the deployment of the missile defense system by the United States in a meeting held in the Chinese city of Qingdao earlier this week. Both sides agreed that the missile defense system should not cause the political relations between Beijing and Seoul to be strained.

“We hope that the South Korean side will continue to properly resolve this issue in accordance with the mutual understanding and consensus reached at the meeting of foreign ministers of the two countries,” Wang added.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Wang said that the Chinese and South Korean foreign ministers had an “in-depth exchange of views” in their meeting the day earlier, during which they “agreed to take each other’s legitimate concerns seriously and continue to prudently handle and properly manage this issue to make sure it does not become a stumbling block to the sound and steady growth of bilateral relations.”

THAAD is a ballistic missile defense system that can hit targets at long, medium or close range. This missile defense system has been one of the most important defense issues in South Korea since the candidacy of President Yoon Suk-yeol for the top post in January.

South Korea says the anti-ballistic missile system is a deterrence against possible missile attacks by North Korea.

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