South Korean protesters stage a rally to oppose a plan to deploy an advanced US missile defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, in front of the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday. Photo: AP
The Chinese military is capable of either destroying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system or making it "blind," once the US military system is deployed in South Korea, experts said, though peaceful means to defuse the planned military facility are still a priority.
South Korea's defense ministry signed a contract to exchange land with Lotte Group on Tuesday and secured the land for the deployment of THAAD, after Lotte on Monday agreed to offer a golf course in Seongju county to the military.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang on Tuesday warned South Korea on THAAD. "China is firm in its resolve to oppose the deployment of THAAD in South Korea and will resolutely take necessary actions to safeguard its own security interests," he said.
"Once the system has been deployed, Seongju county will appear on the list of the PLA missile system's strike targets," said Song Zhongping, a military expert who used to serve in the Second Artillery Corps (now the PLA Rocket Force).
The main threat is its X-band radar which can monitor China's military deployment and missile-launch, which will seriously undermine China's nuclear deterrence, Song said.
But of course, China will not launch an attack in peacetime, but China has various measures to destroy it in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula, so it will not pose a threat to China during the war period, Song said.
"In peacetime, China also has measures to counter the THAAD system, for instance, making it 'blind,' which is very easy. The PLA is entirely capable of doing that," Peng Guangqian, a military strategist at the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Science, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
"Making it 'blind' is a choice, but it will require damaging or even destroying THAAD's radar system, so this is a 'hard measure,' normally implemented by a directed-energy weapon or laser weapon," Song said.
"Apart from this, we can also make THAAD useless through electronic interference and feigned military activities, because such activities can interrupt the functioning of the THAAD system," Song said.
Russia faces similar threats from its European neighbors such as the Czech Republic and Poland, Peng said, so "China can learn from the Russian experience in countering this kind of provocation."
"Russia's countermeasures including regular patrols by strategic bombers and development of more advanced missiles to show the US 'shield' cannot defend against Russia's 'spear,'" Peng said.
Now that Russia is facing the threat on both its eastern and western borders, China and Russia should work together to counter the threat of THAAD, Peng said.
The possibility of turning back the process of the deployment still exists, said Xu Guangyu, a retired PLA major general and a senior advisor of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
"South Korea is fully aware of our capability, so we don't need to conduct extra military actions or movements to display our muscle at this moment," Xu said.
An anonymous PLA officer told the Global Times, "Remember what happened between the Philippines and China last year? It was also highly intense after the arbitration by the Permanent Arbitration Court. And what is happening now after they have a new president? We became friends again. Why don't we just wait and see what will happen next?"
The deployment of THAAD in South Korea has met strong opposition in both China and South Korea.
The push for the THAAD deployment was made amid strong objections from residents in the Seongju county and the city of Gimcheon which faces the site of the super microwave-emitting anti-missile system.
Dozens of Seongju residents gathered in front of the defense ministry's headquarters in Seoul, and they plan to stage a protest rally outside the golf course once a week to draw public attention to the THAAD issue, Xinhua reported.
According to Xinhua, the Lotte and THAAD issues are also related to President Park Geun-hye's political scandal. South Korean special prosecutors on Tuesday branded the impeached Park as a criminal suspect for bribery in collusion with her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of the corruption scandal. Lotte is suspected of making contributions to Choi-controlled foundations in return for the rejection of the warrant to arrest its chief and the restoration of the license to operate downtown duty free stores, Xinhua reported.
Moon Jae-in, the Democratic United Party's candidate for president and the most likely candidate to win the general election, also has reservations about THAAD. He said that the US' missile system has antagonized China and should be decided by the next administration, Reuters reported.