Sanctions not enough to rebuff South Korea over THAAD
Published: Mar 02, 2017 01:13 AM
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is an important part of the US' military deployment in Asia, which involves an attempt to prevent and contain the rise of China. Only when we recognize the nature of the THAAD deployment can we work out the most effective way to cope with it.

Washington's current deployment around China is in a semi-arc shape with its military base headquarters in South Korea, Japan, Guam, Australia and Singapore, forming an island chain.

In recent years, the US' military deployment has been enhanced, which, of course, is not merely targeting North Korea. Five years ago, then US defense secretary Leon Panetta said the Pentagon would deploy 60 percent of naval forces to the Pacific region.

The US Navy is scheduled to deploy more than half of its aircraft carriers and a large number of cruisers, destroyers, submarines and littoral combat ships to this region. It is far more than what's needed to deal with Pyongyang.

The advanced THAAD anti-missile system is just part of the massive deployment. It is mainly used for defense. But, better defense can also lead to better offense, which constitutes a natural military technology development.

The South Korean government has played a role in the THAAD deployment, which resulted from the country's right-wing forces' dependence on US military support.

That Seoul is subordinate to Washington remains unchanged despite the anti-THAAD forces in South Korea. Moreover, growing concerns about the North Korean nuclear threat and aggravating frustration at Korea's reunification give rise to the right and ultra-right forces in the South Korea.

The surge of right-wing politics in South Korea is similar to that in the US and some European countries but is different in that the right-wing forces in South Korea are closely connected to the US. The changes in South Korean social ethos and ideologies have been influenced by the US.

Seoul will continue to play a role in Washington's strategy toward China. But, such a role will be more difficult to sustain given Beijing's rise and will never bring peace to South Korea.

It has been more than six decades since the end of the Korean War but the security order in Northeast Asia hardly changed, which is a pity not only for the Korean Peninsula but also for Asia as a whole.

It is expected that China's rise will bring an end to this troublesome trend.

Beijing must adopt some measures to make South Koreans understand that they would be on the losing side if they become part of the US' China strategy. 

Economic sanctions are not enough to let South Korea feel the pain. Maintaining Sino-South Korean economic and trading development conforms to the bilateral interests of the two nations and is conducive to gaining South Koreans' understanding.

In the meantime, Beijing could ask those willing to promote China-South Korea ties to help mitigate the contradiction and friction between Beijing and Seoul, fueled by the THAAD deployment, and prompt reflection within South Korean society.

The THAAD deployment gives China a reason to adjust its military deployment in East China, South China and the Yellow Seas as well as near the Korean Peninsula.

China's military deployment in these regions should target the US' military presence there, including the deployment of THAAD. China's military drills can also facilitate this objective.

We must convey an articu­late message to the South Ko­rean people and South Korean companies including Lotte that THAAD will definitely become a target of China's military coun­termeasures.

It is far from being the best choice for Seoul.

The author is a senior editor with People's Daily, and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. dinggang@globaltimes.com.cn. Follow him on Twitter @dinggangchina