China says THAAD anti-missiles ‘severely undermine’ security as Seoul picks deployment site

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Beijing has once again voiced strong objections to the deployment of a US anti-missile system in South Korea, vowing to take the “necessary” steps to maintain a strategic power balance in the region.

Stating that China has already made it perfectly “clear” on several occasions that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is not welcome in South Korea, the country’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated that the complex’s deployment will not help maintain peace in the region.

The THAAD deployment “will in no way help address the security concerns of relevant parties, realize denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula,” Shuang told reporters at a daily briefing. 

The spokesperson said that America’s deployment of the weapons will “severely undermine” China's strategic security interests and will tip the regional balance of power on the peninsula.

“China is firmly opposed and will take necessary measures to defend national security interests and regional strategic balance. We strongly urge the US and the ROK to spend more efforts on upholding peace and stability on the Peninsula, take seriously the legitimate concerns of China and other regional countries, and immediately stop the deployment process,” Shuang warned.

The statement from China came in response to South Korea’s defense ministry announcement that it has chosen a deployment site for the American hardware. On Friday South Korea selected a golf course in the southeastern part of the country as the “final” site for THAAD.

“We have conducted a simulation-based evaluation on three alternative sites in Seongju. The test results showed the Lotte Skyhill Country Club is the most optimal site for THAAD in terms of six principles,” Moon Sang-gyun, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, told Yonhap News Agency.

The new site, selected out of three options, was chosen based on six principles: operational effectiveness, remoteness to ease health concerns, infrastructure, overall safety considerations, construction time and cost, and the required preparation time for installation.

The golf course is positioned 680 meters above sea level and is somewhat isolated from residential areas. The location was chosen after American and Korean defense officials spent months analyzing the potential deployment areas. Seoul wants to complete the installation by 2017.

“The government is determined to finish the THAAD installation within the next year without fail to better protect the security of the country and life of its people from the evolving nuclear and missile threats from North Korea,” the ministry said in a statement.

South Korea’s defense ministry now needs to buy the golf club from Lotte Group for over 100 billion won ($91 million). Lotte Group said it will consider the offer and “will closely consult with the defense ministry as to the next steps.”

The US and South Korea claim that THAAD’s deployment is not aimed against any third countries, be it China or Russia, which also has voiced opposition to the installation. However, the pace of North Korean nuclear tests and missile launches has prompted the US and its Asian ally to push forward with the deployment of the anti-missile complex despite local opposition.

South Koreans have also been holding regular protests against THAAD’s installation. Besides security concerns, the locals have been voicing fear due to a perception of potential health problems that could by the system's powerful X-band radar. Following the announcement of the deployment site, residents of Gimcheon, which sits adjacent to the golf course, already threatened “a full-scale protest.”