China calls on US to cease THAAD deployment in South Korea
China has reaffirmed its strong opposition to the US deployment of an advanced missile system in neighboring South Korea, warning that Beijing would take necessary steps to protect its interests.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press conference on Wednesday that the deployment ofthe Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea jeopardizes regional stability.
"With THAAD, the US and South Korea seriously destroyed the local regional stability and seriously damaged the strategic interests of countries in the region, including those of China,” the Chinese official said.
Hecalled on Washington and Seoul to cease the project.
“We have already said that we resolutely oppose the US and South Korea's deployment of the THAAD system, and we're intensely calling upon the US and South Korea to cease the (deployment) process,” the Chinese official stated.
"China will resolutely take the necessary steps to protect our reasonable interests," Lu added, without elaborating.
On Friday, the United States and South Korea said they had made a final decision to deploy the missile system in the South, claiming it will only be used in defense against what they called North Korean threats.
China, which shares a border with North Korea, has been voicing its opposition to the deployment of the system for months, warning it would destabilize regional security.
Washington and Seoul began intense consultations on THAAD after North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January, which was followed by a satellite launch and a string of test-launches of various missiles.
According to the South Korean Defense Ministry, the US missile system will be deployed in the southeastern county of Seongju to maximize its effectiveness while minimizing any impact on residents and the environment. The ministry has also said it aims to have the system operational by the end of 2017.
The deployment has sparked protests from residents, including those of Seongju, located 296 kilometers southeast of the capital, Seoul.
Meanwhile, Russia has also voiced opposition to the plan, saying the missile system tends to undermine stability in the region and “most negatively affect global strategic stability.”
North Korea's military has also threatened to take "physical action" in response to the deployment of the missile system on the Korean peninsula.
THAAD has been designed to intercept ballistic missiles inside or just outside the atmosphere during their final phase of flight.