Door open to de­fense di­a­logue with ROK, gov’t says

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHANG ZHIHAO zhangzhi­hao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China is will­ing to hold de­fense-re­lated di­a­logue and de­velop co­op­er­a­tion with the Repub­lic of Korea on the ba­sis of mu­tu­ally re­spect­ing each other’s se­cu­rity in­ter­ests, the Min­istry of De­fense said on Mon­day.

The com­ments came fol­low­ing this year’s dis­rup­tion of high-level Chi­naROK de­fense talks as a re­sult of the ROK’s de­ci­sion to de­ploy the US’ Ter­mi­nal High Al­ti­tude Area De­fense mis­sile sys­tem.

The di­a­logue, held be­tween of­fi­cials at the vice-de­fensem­i­nis­ter level, was put on hold, ac­cord­ing to Yon­hap News Agency.

In ad­di­tion, ROK De­fense Min­is­ter Han Min-koo’s vis­its to China were also placed in doubt, Yon­hap re­ported.

The de­fense-strate­gic di­a­logue, first es­tab­lished in 2011, was de­signed to strengthen bi­lat­eral de­fense co­op­er­a­tion and in­crease mu­tual trust be­tween the two coun­tries, said Piao Jianyi, a re­searcher of Korean Penin­sula stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

There is so much chaos in Seoul’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem ... the fate of THAAD is re­ally un­clear.”

Piao Jianyi, a re­searcher of Korean Penin­sula stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences

Last year, the di­a­logue was ren­dered un­nec­es­sary and can­celed be­cause Han and his Chi­nese coun­ter­part Chang Wan­quan had al­ready spo­ken at a dif­fer­ent meet­ing.

Mil­i­tary re­la­tions be­tween China and the ROK soured af­ter Seoul agreed to host THAAD em­place­ments in July in re­sponse to what it called the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea’s nu­clear threats.

This in­fu­ri­ated Bei­jing and Moscow be­cause the sys­tem’s radar will have a ra­dius of 2,000 kilo­me­ters and cover parts of China and Rus­sia, thus un­der­min­ing their na­tional in­ter­ests and desta­bi­liz­ing the bal­ance of power in North­east Asia.

The min­istry said China clearly and strongly op­posed the de­ploy­ment of THAAD, and its stance has not changed.

China hopes the ROK will cher­ish the ex­ist­ing fruits of their mil­i­tary re­la­tions, care­fully han­dle China-re­lated se­cu­rity is­sues in the in­ter­est of the peo­ple and re­gional sta­bil­ity, and cre­ate the con­di­tions in which China-ROK mil­i­tary re­la­tions can suc­cess­fully de­velop.

Piao said the min­istry’s re­sponse is to si­mul­ta­ne­ously as­sert pres­sure on Seoul and still keep com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels open.

“There is so much chaos in Seoul’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem right now that the fate of THAAD is re­ally un­clear,” he said. “China can wait and see if there are any changes in Seoul’s de­fense pol­icy. In the mean­time, any chance to talk things out is al­ways wel­comed.”

Piao said “it will be a shame” if this year’s di­a­logue is can­celed be­cause of THAAD.

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