SEOUL – Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has sharply criticized South Korea’s move to deploy an advanced U.S. anti-missile defence system to counter threats from North Korea, saying it harms the foundation of their mutual trust, news reports said Monday.
The announcement by South Korea and the United States this month that they would deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) unit has already drawn protests from Beijing that it would destabilize regional security.
The decision to deploy THAAD is the latest move to squeeze the increasingly isolated North Korea, but China worries the system’s radar will be able to track its military capabilities. Russia also opposes the deployment.
“The recent move by the South Korean side has harmed the foundation of mutual trust between the two countries,” the Yonhap news agency quoted Wang as telling South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
“Now I will hear what Minister Yun has to say. In particular, I will hear what kind of practical actions South Korea will take to protect the unwavering relations between us.”
Wang and Yun met late on Sunday on the sidelines of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations conference of foreign ministers in Vientiane.
Yun told Wang that the move was aimed at protecting South Korea’s security and that it would not damage China’s security interests, Yonhap said.
It quoted a government source as playing down Wang’s words, as it is what China has said about THAAD previously.
South Korea and the United States have said THAAD would only be used in defence against North Korean ballistic missiles.
North Korea has launched a series of missiles in recent months, the latest last week when it fired three ballistic missiles that it said was a simulated test of preemptive strikes against South Korean ports and airfields used by the U.S. military.
The missiles flew 500-600 km into the sea off its east coast and could have hit anywhere in South Korea if the North intended, the South’s military said.
North Korea came under the latest round of United Nations Security Council sanctions in March after Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January and the launch of a long-range rocket the following month.
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