China should adjust approach to S.Korea

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/12 23:43:40

A special committee of South Korea's ruling Minjoo Party said Friday that it will push for a public hearing on the deployment of US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) defense system to end controversies over the issue, and will seek to bring the issue of THAAD deployment to parliament for deliberation.

The committee said that since the new government has been established, administrative organs like the Ministry of National Defense should immediately stop illegally deploying THAAD.

The newly elected President Moon Jae-in had said multiple times during the election campaign that THAAD should be submitted for a vote in parliament.

The new move by the Minjoo Party shows that the decision on the THAAD deployment is not absolutely final and uncertainties remain.

The deployment of THAAD is the biggest legacy of the conservative government in South Korea. The conservatives had hard pressed for its deployment, and the military had worked together with the US to put major parts of the system in place before the South Korean presidential election, so that the new administration could not overturn the deployment easily.

However, the forceful installation by the interim government clearly violated South Korean legal procedure, and it met with strong opposition. The deployment of THAAD lacks public consensus, a problem that is now surfacing.

It is now a new situation of power struggle in South Korea. The military and conservative forces, including some mainstream media, support the deployment, while the victory of the Minjoo Party has strengthened the opposition forces. The economic interests and residents in Seongju-gun may become more vocal in demanding suspension or postponement of the deployment. Their voices had been suppressed or played down by the media.

However, THAAD had never been a solely domestic issue of South Korea. What attitudes China and the US take will continue to be a focus of debate in South Korea.

China should make its opposition to THAAD more clear, and refute the logic that South Korea has given China full respect by reassessing the THAAD deployment. It is certain that the deployment of THAAD will seriously damage Sino-South Korean relations.

The US is the real power behind the THAAD deployment. By establishing THAAD, Washington can not only deal with North Korea, but more importantly will contain the strategic deterrence of Chinese missiles and strengthen its military coalition with South Korea and its Northeast Asia alliance.

It will be strikingly different situations if China keeps opposing THAAD and pushes the US back a bit, or the US strenuously pushes for the deployment and forces China to make compromise. The South Korean society will closely watch Chinese and US moves, and the debate between the two sides in South Korea will be linked to the China-US power struggle on the Korean Peninsula.

Now that South Korea has a new government which has demonstrated a friendly attitude toward China, China should adjust its manner of dealing with South Korea, and get rid of emotions that hamper mutual communication. China should demonstrate its resolute opposition to THAAD, and show to the Korean society that it does not mean China belittles South Korea or is indifferent to the Sino-South Korean relations.

The Chinese society should be aware of the sensitivity of the THAAD issue in South Korea, and play down the hardline voices toward South Korea so as to not embolden South Korean conservative forces' anti-China sentiment. The South Korean society should make decisions for the country's long-term interest and not make the THAAD issue a bone of contention with China.

While China should stick to its anti-THAAD position, its tactics must correspond with South Korean politics. Denuclearization is the ultimate end for the Korean Peninsula, but THAAD's deployment goes against this direction. The South Korean society will eventually understand this and make a right choice.



Posted in: EDITORIAL

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