China justified to sanction South Korea

By Cai Jian Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/13 19:43:39

Some members of the Chinese public started to boycott South Korea's Lotte Group after the company signed a land-swap deal with the South Korean government for the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. Western media outlets described the boycott against Lotte and sanctions on South Korea as chauvinistic actions. This is a ridiculous accusation.

The monitoring scope of THAAD goes far beyond defending the Korean Peninsula, and reaches deep into the hinterland of Asia, posing direct threats to China's security interests and those of other regional countries. All countries have the right to take actions to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests if it is strategically threatened.

China is a responsible power. It has never and will never suppress any country. But South Korea's deployment of the THAAD system jeopardizes China's strategic security interests in the first place. China's strong reactions to South Korea are justified.

Unlike Moscow, which stated earlier that it would take Washington and Seoul's actions into account in its foreign policy and military planning, Beijing prefers to use economic measures to deter Seoul from installing the THAAD system, which further escalates tensions on the peninsula. Economic sanction is necessary and effective against Seoul.

South Korea has a much smaller economy than China, and depends heavily on China in trade. Tougher economic sanctions will negatively impact South Korea's corporate interests, which may then exert some influence on the country's political arena.

The boycott will also adversely impact South Korea's tourism industry, affecting more sectors in the country. This will pressure Seoul's policymakers to think twice before continuing the THAAD deployment.

Some critics in the West have said that China, as a country under the rule of law, has no reason to punish South Korean enterprises that are doing businesses in the Chinese market. However, all states have the right to sanction those that have posed a threat to their national sovereignty and strategic security interests.

Examples of this kind abound in the US and other Western countries. For instance, 25 individuals and entities have been included on the US sanctions list last month targeting Iran following the latter's ballistic missile test.

While the Lotte Group provided the land to US military deployment at the expense of China's security interests, it should not be allowed to benefit from the Chinese market.

In the meantime, China's focus should be shifted toward the South Korean government. After all, it is the Blue House that is behind the THAAD deployment. Personally, I think we can be more vocal about sanctions over South Korea.

China's sanctions are defending its interests. Beijing is not abruptly sanctioning Seoul, but gradually reducing Sino-South Korean exchanges and trying to maintain a normal relationship with its neighbor.

With the arrival of some THAAD equipment in South Korea, Beijing has just begun to take economic countermeasures against Seoul, but has prepared follow-up measures if the THAAD deployment is continued or completed.

Some have argued that China should have taken preemptive actions and imposed sanctions on South Korea immediately when the latter intended to deploy the anti-missile defense system on its soil. In fact, by boycotting the South Korean enterprise, China is leaving some leeway for future Beijing-Seoul relationship.

It is hoped that South Korea will understand China's concerns and change its mind on the THAAD deployment. There are still many uncertainties in the South Korean political arena, especially after former president Park Geun-hye has just been ousted.

Under these circumstances, the future of the THAAD deployment is still ambiguous.

Sanctions against the Lotte Group are justified given the severe damages the THAAD system will have on China's strategic security interests. Preemptive measures may be more effective than remedial actions after the damages are inflicted. Any allegation accusing China of being chauvinistic is groundless. National interests are always the No.1 priority in China's foreign relations.

The author is a professor at the Center for Korean Studies, Fudan University. Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion


blog comments powered by Disqus