The Republic of Korea’s defense ministry signed a land swap deal with Lotte Group on Tuesday to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in the country, which China and Russia believe will further compromise regional security. Reports say THAAD could be installed as early as June, before the ROK elects a new president.
That THAAD’s deployment will escalate tensions on the already tense Korean Peninsula is a foregone conclusion. The missile interceptor, which is to be deployed at the forefront of the United States’ anti-missile system in West Pacific, not only makes the ROK an expendable chess piece in Washington’s “rebalancing to Asia” game, but could also trigger a new “cold war” in Northeast Asia where distrust already prevails.
On Thursday, China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesman Sun Jiwen reiterated the country’s stern opposition to and urged relevant parties to stop pressing ahead with the deployment of the anti-missile system. Asked about the anti-Lotte sentiment among some Chinese netizens, Sun said the Chinese government welcomes all foreign enterprises and protects their operations in the country as long as they are legal.
As the ROK’s biggest operator of department stores and duty-free shops, Lotte has seen sluggish growth in its retail business in China－sales in its stores in China fell 14 percent last year. It is clear therefore that Lotte’s involvement in the THAAD deal signed by Washington and Seoul bodes ill for its business in China.
Seoul will have to face the consequences if it pushes forward with the deployment of THAAD, and China-ROK economic ties, even regional trade exchanges, may fall victim to its ill-considered decision.
China is the ROK’s largest trading and investment partner, with their bilateral trade volume reaching $171.8 billion in the first 11 months of 2016. The annual China-ROK trade volume has exceeded the combined value of the ROK’s trade with the US, Japan and Europe…
Read more : China Daily, 06.03.2017