The board of South Korea's Lotte Group on Monday approved a land-swap agreement between its golf course in the Seongju County, where the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system is set to be deployed, and a state-owned military site in Gyeonggi Province near Seoul. An official agreement between Lotte and the nation's military is due to be signed on Tuesday, and the South Korean military hopes to set up the missile shield by June at the earliest.
Because of the THAAD deployment, a contention of will between Beijing and Seoul has emerged and retreat doesn't seem to be an option right now for either side. Given this, China might as well take any necessary actions and let South Korea bear the punishments which it once fancied it might be able to duck.
South Korea is the most prominent beneficiary of peace in Northeast Asia. Its development since Beijing and Seoul formally established diplomatic relations in 1992 pushed the country into the group of developed nations. But now it is acting willfully in deploying THAAD on its soil, betraying the cooperative logic in Northeast Asia, tying itself to the US chariot and turning into an arrogant pawn of Washington in the latter's military containment against China. From any perspective, adopting counterattacks toward Seoul is a must for Beijing.
For starters, Lotte Group's development in the Chinese market should come to an end. Offering land for the THAAD installation is not entirely Lotte's fault, yet Chinese society has neither the obligation nor interest to examine and distinguish what role Lotte has played in the undertaking. Showing Lotte the door will be an effective warning to all the other foreign forces that jeopardize China's national interests. This is the dignity China should have as a major power.
We also propose that Chinese society should coordinate voluntarily in expanding restrictions on South Korean cultural goods and entertainment exports to China, and block them when necessary. Let's see how far South Korean TV dramas and stars can go without strong support from the Chinese market.
The deployment of THAAD in South Korea marks a new round of strategic games between China, Russia and the US. In the contention over the Korean Peninsula, Seoul has turned itself into one player in a bigger game involving Beijing, Washington and Moscow. The risks THAAD will bring to South Korea are far more than any advantage it could have. History will prove how misguided South Korean policymakers are.
The THAAD installation is a mighty blow against strategic mutual trust between Beijing and Seoul. Ties will inevitably hit rock bottom, and this will be a loss for both sides. In the long-run, China needs to get ready to confront Seoul, which is helping the US to stab us in the back. Meanwhile, as long as China maintains its momentum of development and continues its all-round rise, Seoul will eventually realize its errors and mend its ways.