U.S. military officials are trying to pacify a furious China in the wake of Washington’s plan to deploy a battery of advanced missile defense systems in South Korea, insisting to angry military leaders in Beijing that the weapons would be solely targeting ballistic missile threats from North Korea and not undercut China’s own military deterrent.
Beijing has denounced the planned deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense weapon in South Korea and has already retaliated in ways large and small, including blocking a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning a recent North Korean missile test and canceling appearances by South Korean “K-Pop” music stars.
“If THAAD is deployed, it will sour [South Korea‘s] relations with China and Russia, trigger an arms race and damage trade,” the state-controlled China Daily newspaper wrote in an editorial Thursday. “It will make it difficult for the country to seek cooperation from China and Russia in denuclearizing the peninsula.”
Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces-Korea, met in Seoul on Thursday with Vice Adm. James D. Syring, U.S. Missile Defense Agency chief, to discuss the deployment. THAAD is expected to arrive in South Korea by next year.
Talking with reporters in South Korea, Adm. Syring stressed that the THAAD-based missile defense system is integral to curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions but would not undermine China’s ballistic missile defense efforts or pose a legitimate threat to Beijing in the region.