By Hwang Sung-Hee
Seoul (AFP) Feb 23, 2016
China's ambassador to South Korea warned Tuesday that the planned deployment of a US missile defence system in the country could damage Beijing-Seoul ties, possibly irreparably.
Once damaged, it would be "hard" to normalise relations between the two former Cold War enemies, ambassador Qiu Guohong said, according to a spokesman for South Korea's main opposition Minju party.
Qiu made the remarks when he met Minju party head Kim Jong-In at parliament. A spokesman for the Chinese embassy said the Minju party's briefing on the meeting to journalists was accurate.
"It has taken much effort to develop China-South Korea ties to this degree. But these efforts could be destroyed in an instant because of one issue," Qiu said in reference to the planned deployment of the advanced US missile defence system in South Korea.
China has repeatedly protested since Washington and Seoul announced plans to instal the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system (THAAD) in the South, in response to North Korea's recent nuclear test and rocket launch.
But Tuesday was the first time that a Chinese diplomat or official has warned of the effect on diplomatic ties with Seoul.
Qiu repeated Beijing's argument that the THAAD deployment would "greatly undermine" China's security interests, cause instability and spark a regional arms race.
"(South Korea) should consider whether its own security, under these circumstances, could be guaranteed," Qiu said.
China fought alongside North Korea against the South and its allies during the 1950-53 war.
It established diplomatic ties with Seoul only in 1992 but is now the South's top trading partner.
Earlier on Tuesday South Korea's defence ministry said Washington and Seoul had postponed the signing of an accord, originally due on Tuesday, on setting up a joint working group to discuss details of the THAAD deployment.
The delay comes as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is set to visit Washington from Tuesday to meet his US counterpart John Kerry for possible talks on the controversial missile defence system and on North Korea.
The THAAD system fires anti-ballistic missiles to smash into enemy missiles either inside or outside the Earth's atmosphere during their final flight phase.
The interceptor missiles carry no warheads, instead relying on kinetic energy to destroy their targets.
The allies announced their intention to begin talks on its deployment following Pyongyang's long-range rocket launch on February 7, which was seen by the US and its allies as a covert ballistic missile test.
China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying warned Monday the deployment of THAAD should not be used as a front to "undermine China's own legitimate (security) interests".
The South's defence ministry reiterated Tuesday that the US system only targets North Korean missiles and that its deployment was an issue between the two allies.
The ministry said it expects official talks on THAAD to begin next week once the two sides set up the joint working group later this week.
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
All about missiles at SpaceWar.com
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|