Will Moon move to repair relationship with China?

By Liu Jianxi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/9 23:03:39

Democratic Party candidate Moon Jae-in claimed victory in the South Korean presidential election Tuesday night. How South Korea's attitude toward the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system will evolve after he takes office concerns the Chinese public greatly.

Although THAAD is already being deployed, the new president is likely to reconsider the plan.

Moon said earlier that Washington's move to install elements of the THAAD system is "strongly regrettable." "It is not desirable for the South Korean government to deploy THAAD hastily … without going through the democratic process," Moon said in an interview with the Washington Post, and meanwhile, he expressed his willingness to meet North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un over the nuclear crisis.

The anti-missile defense system, instead of effectively protecting South Korea from potential attacks, would only make the North more anxious about the security risks it faces and provoke the country to take more radical actions. Pyongyang's state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper accused South Korean conservatives of maximizing the "political and military confrontation" on the peninsula. "If the conservative clique is to come into power again, the tragedy will be extended," the newspaper said. Different from conservatives, Moon supported the "Sunshine Policy" and may work for closer ties with the North. This will help ease regional tensions.

In addition, the estimated costs for the THAAD system range from $800 million to $1.6 billion, which could raise cost-sharing questions in the US, according to the US Congressional Research Service. US President Donald Trump called for South Korea to bear the costs for the system and its operation, and this has struck a heavy blow to Seoul.

The South Korean public has launched protests several times demanding the government to withdraw the THAAD installation. The new government should act in compliance with its public's appeal for peace and stability.

The THAAD system reaches deep into the hinterland of Asia, posing severe threats to China's security and strategic interests. Beijing remains resolute in its opposition to the system after the new government takes office. The Park administration insisted on the THAAD deployment in complete disregard of China's interests. The decision irked the Chinese public, who voluntarily moved to boycott South Korean products.

The THAAD deployment is an issue that the new government has to take into account in handling its ties with China.

It is hoped Moon can take the initiative to repair the battered bilateral relationship between Beijing and Seoul. If the opportunity is missed, the future ties will face more challenges.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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