Lotte should move out of China over THAAD land deal

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/21 23:23:39

South Korea's Lotte Group is expected to sign a land-swap deal with the South Korean government at the end of this month involving the company's Seongju Golf Course and land owned by the South Korean military to deploy the advanced THAAD missile defense system. The news has generated a strong reaction on the Chinese Internet, with many netizens saying they would boycott Lotte.  The company on Monday said its stance remains unchanged and a final decision would be made within the month.

Since news of the land deal between Lotte and the military broke out last year, the conglomerate's business in China has gradually been affected. Construction activity on its project in the northeastern city of Shenyang was halted in December, its flagship store on Taobao, China's biggest online shopping platform, and three supermarket chains in China have been closed down. Although there is no official confirmation, analysts believe this is the price Lotte is paying for providing land for THAAD. 

Lotte's image in China has been destroyed by its involvement in the THAAD deployment issue. Prospects for its approximately 120 stores and facilities in China are dim. Chinese tourists make up about 70 percent of Lotte Duty Free Stores' sales, but this is expected to drop.

Although Lotte considers China its most important overseas market, the company can survive without the Chinese market. Therefore, there is little chance that pressure from China could change Lotte's decision.  Also, it's unlikely that China could persuade South Korea to give up the THAAD deployment.  It's rare to find countries altering their political decisions through sanctions.

Nonetheless, Chinese society is also determined to make Lotte pay the price for its support of the THAAD deployment. Such a company that violates China's interests should move out of China. 

South Korea has decided to stand with the US in deploying the THAAD system, which makes China a target.  So, how can it be still called a friend of China?  Most Chinese will consider South Korea an accomplice of the US in impairing China's national interests.

South Korea has neither advanced technology nor the resources that China desperately needs. The Chinese largely propped up the "Korean Wave." But when mixed with the THAAD issue, it has become nothing to the Chinese.

Having its bread buttered on both sides, South Korea once enjoyed a robust development. But it has since taken the side of the US against China. It is increasingly difficult for China and South Korea to conduct dialogues, and Seoul believes it's the fault of Pyongyang and Beijing. 

South Korea is becoming tougher. Besides THAAD, it also fired shots at Chinese fishermen. But there's a payback for every action. 

Posted in: OBSERVER

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