China urges halt to THAAD deployment

By Gu Di and Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/2 22:53:40

Experts suggest cautious countermeasures to safeguard interests

China on Tuesday reaffirmed its opposition to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea, urging relevant parties to immediately stop the deployment.

"China holds a clear and firm position on the issue of THAAD, and we call on the relevant sides to immediately stop the deployment," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily press briefing on Tuesday.

"We will also firmly take necessary measures to defend our own interests," said Geng.

Geng made the remarks after US Forces Korea (USFK) said Tuesday that the anti-missile system, which was deployed last week in southeast South Korea, is "operational."

The installed THAAD system has the ability to "intercept missiles" from North Korea and "defend South Korea," according to USFK spokesperson Rob Manning, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The installed system includes two mobile launchers, an AN/TPY-2 radar and other equipment. A THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, the radar and the fire and control unit, Xinhua reported.

Regional countries have strongly opposed THAAD's deployment, including China and Russia, as it breaks the regional strategic balance.

"The deployment of THAAD poses a substantial threat to China, as the system enables South Korea and its ally to monitor China's military and economic projects in North, Northeast and East China," Yang Chengjun, a senior military strategist of missile studies from the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times.

Aside for diplomatic channels, Yang also suggested military countermeasures to safeguard China's national security.

China could send more troops armed with advanced weapons to the northeast region, enhance air and naval forces in the region, as well as conduct regular anti-THAAD drills, Yang said.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said Thursday that China will continue real combat-oriented military training and drills to safeguard national security.

Meanwhile, the country can disclose more information about the deployment of some advanced weapons, such as the DF-41 strategic missile, according to Yang.

However, Jin Qiangyi, director of the Asia Studies Center at Yanbian University, warned that countermeasures against the THAAD must be done cautiously.

Compared with the US-Japan alliance, US-South Korea ties are weak, and China should avoid a breakdown in Sino-South Korean relations resulting from the countermeasures, which would only benefit the US and North Korea, Jin told the Global Times.

The earlier-than-expected deployment has also triggered protests in South Korea, Xinhua reported.


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