China's envoy opposes possible THAAD deployment in S. Korea: lawmaker
SEOUL, Nov. 26 (Yonhap) -- China's top diplomat to Seoul said Wednesday he is opposed to the possible U.S. deployment of an advanced missile-defense (MD) system in South Korea as it would hurt Sino-Korean ties, a lawmaker said.
The United States has said it is considering deploying a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, an integral part of its MD system, to South Korea, citing evolving threats from North Korea. It is designed to shoot down short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles at a higher altitude in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill method.
The possibility has been a focus of media attention as it is seen as part of a broader U.S. attempt to get the Asian ally to join its air defense system and could spark tensions with China and Russia, who see it as a threat to their security interests.
"The THAAD would have a range of around 2,000 kilometers, which goes beyond the goal of countering missiles from North Korea," Chinese ambassador to South Korea Qiu Guohong was quoted as saying by Rep. Won Hye-young of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD).
Won, who leads the parliamentary special committee on the development of inter-Korean relations and exchange, had a meeting with the ambassador earlier in the day in Seoul.
"The deployment of the THAAD will badly influence the relations between South Korea and China ... It would harm China's security system," Qiu said.
Refusing to join the U.S. air defense system also participated in by Japan, South Korea has been working on developing its own Korea Air and Missile Defense system (KAMD), but the Seoul government has said that it does not oppose Washington's possible plan to bring THAAD here to protect its troops.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are currently stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.Touching on the six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to denuclearize, Qiu stressed the need for the parties involved to put forth "conditions that North Korea could accept," adding that his country "is considering informal discussions to tune up conditions everyone can accept," according to the lawmaker.
The multilateral forum involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan have been stalled since late 2008, with Seoul and Washington calling on Pyongyang to take sincere, concrete actions before the resumption of any talks.
Noting that North Korea has been sending a message of giving up its nuclear ambition, the ambassador said China will put pressure on its communist ally "if it continues its nuclear development while dialogue is under way."
Qiu, however, voiced clear opposition to a recent United Nations resolution condemning North Korea's dire human rights situation. The highly symbolic move by the international community last week calls for the referral of the North to the International Criminal Court for punishment.
"Sanctions and isolation do no good to resolve North Korea's nuclear issues," Qiu was quoted as saying. "I stand against taking the human rights issue as political issues or as any leverage against the North."