THAAD will not bring Seoul security

What the ROK should do now is to can­cel or at least stall the THAAD de­ploy­ment plan, and seek can­did and sin­cere talks with China to re­solve the is­sue.

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS -

China has not banned the Repub­lic of Korea’s en­ter­tain­ment prod­ucts and show­biz celebri­ties in re­sponse to Seoul al­low­ing the United States to de­ploy the Ter­mi­nalHigh-Al­ti­tude Area De­fense sys­tem on the ROK soil. De­spite that, how­ever, Chi­nese con­sumers might be avoid­ing pop cul­tural prod­ucts from the ROK, be­cause Seoul’s de­ci­sion has cre­ated a chal­lenge for fu­ture China-ROK ties.

Be­fore Seoul andWash­ing­ton jointly an­nounced the de­ploy­ment plan on July 8, China ad­vised the ROK not to make any fur­ther moves in that di­rec­tion, but to no avail.

As of now, it ap­pears, but with­out much ba­sis, Bei­jing is step­ping up ef­forts against Seoul’s de­ci­sion on THAAD by restrict­ing cul­tural and cul­tural prod­ucts’ ex­changes with the ROK. Whether such ex­changes will be of­fi­cially stopped re­mains un­clear, and such a de­ci­sion largely de­pends on how the ROK re­sponds to China’s ob­jec­tion.

The pur­ported re­stric­tion on the flow of ROK’s cul­tural prod­ucts, es­pe­cially show­biz prod­ucts, into the Chi­nese main­land mar­ket, should give the ROK cit­i­zens the im­pres­sion that China is deeply con­cerned over the de­ploy­ment of the an­timis­sile sys­tem.

Bei­jing has to keep re­mind­ing Seoul that the de­ploy­ment of THAAD on the Korean Penin­sula is more of a po­lit­i­cal is­sue. In other words, a line has to be drawn in their bi­lat­eral ties, how­ever close they­may be, when it comes to vi­tal security is­sues like THAAD’s de­ploy­ment.

The de­ploy­ment of the an­timis­sile sys­tem on the ROK soil also car­ries im­por­tant po­lit­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions: Seoul is par­tic­i­pat­ing, if not en­dors­ing, Washington’s so-called pivot to Asia strat­egy, which ap­par­ently is aimed at con­tain­ing Bei­jing.

China will surely strike back if its na­tional in­ter­ests come un­der threat. What the ROK should do now is to can­cel or at least stall the THAAD de­ploy­ment plan, and seek can­did and sin­cere talks with China to re­solve the is­sue. As the most sen­si­tive part in any bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship, security con­cerns al­ways go un­no­ticed be­fore they take a toll on eco­nomic and cul­tural ex­changes.

It is pos­si­ble that the Chi­nese peo­ple may vote with their feet and avoid vis­it­ing the ROK, a pop­u­lar over­seas des­ti­na­tion for many Chi­nese tourists and stu­dents, as many of them are get­ting anx­ious about the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing bi­lat­eral ties. The de­ploy­ment of THAAD in the ROK will al­most cer­tainly set a tick­ing time bomb in the two peo­ples’ minds, as well as bi­lat­eral eco­nomic ties.

Time is of the essence for both coun­tries and they should ne­go­ti­ate over the THAAD is­sue at the ear­li­est. It could lead to a sorry state of af­fairs if the ROK misses the nar­row win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to re­cal­i­brate Bei­jing-Seoul re­la­tions. The au­thor is a re­searcher in Asia-Pacific strat­egy at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

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