Chinese media warned the deployment of an American missile defense battery to South Korea could trigger an arms race, while the communist government called for an end to joint American/South Korean military drills.
The first battery of the Army’s Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), a long-range mobile missile defense system, arrived in South Korea yesterday for deployment in the southeastern region of the country.
The deployment of THAAD comes after North Korea launched a salvo of four missiles that fell into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan after traveling approximately 600 miles. Three missiles fell in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, around 200 miles from the shoreline of the Akita prefecture.
The Communist Chinese government vehemently opposes the deployment of THAAD as the system’s radar is capable of reaching into the area of northeastern China bordering North Korea, where China has positioned a sizable number of its own missiles.
The state-run Xinhua news agency warned the deployment of THAAD would produce “an arms race in the region.”
“We solemnly object to South Korea and the U.S. deployment of THAAD and will resolutely take necessary actions in order to safeguard our security interests,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry.
“We will take steps to maintain our security interests.”
China has also moved to sanction the South Korean Lotte conglomerate, which provided land for the THAAD batteries.
In a move reminiscent of massive public protests against Japanese interests in China after Japan nationalized several islands in the Senkaku island chain in the East China Sea, the Chinese government has permitted large protests directed at the Lotte conglomerate.
In addition, the Chinese government has called for an immediate end to joint American-South Korean military drills in exchange for an end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the proposal, arguing the two sides are like “two accelerating trains, coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way.”
“Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday’s launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea,” said Pacific Command commander Admiral Harry Harris.
“We will resolutely honor our alliance commitments to South Korea and stand ready to defend ourselves, the American homeland, and our allies.”