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South Korea has decided to deploy a U.S. missile-defense system, and China is furious. Chinese leaders worry that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system will undermine its security and disrupt the regional strategic balance, by monitoring flights and missile launches in Chinese territory. But, as long as North Korea poses such an acute threat on the Korean Peninsula, China’s opposition to it is pointless — and highly destructive.

As the United States and South Korea rush to deploy THAAD before the South’s snap presidential election on May 9, China is ramping up economic sanctions, in the hope of compelling the next president to reconsider. Already, South Korea’s tourism, consumer goods, and entertainment industries have been hit hard.

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