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THAAD may cause 'quasi break off' between China and South Korea - state media

A resident in a rural South Korean town shouts slogans to protest a plan to deploy an advanced US missile defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense in their neighborhood, in Seoul, South Korea, October 5, 2016. Photo: AP

The diplomatic relations between China and South Korea may face a "quasi break off" after Lotte Group and South Korean defense ministry inked a land swap deal to facilitate the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, the Chinese government's mouthpiece said on Tuesday.

The People's Daily quoted an article published on its WeChat public account Xiakedao as saying that the next South Korean government cannot steer clear of the THAAD issue if it wants to mend fences with China.

The article saw this year's South Korean presidential election as a silver lining to avoid the current estrangement between the two neighbors, given that the new president may reconsider the gains and losses of the THAAD system, whose deployment needs several months.

The presidential election, which is set to be held in December, may be brought forward, if the final ruling on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, who approved the THAAD system last year, could be made in March.

On Monday, South Korea's Constitutional Court heard the final arguments of Park and the National Assembly, and is expected to give its ruling by March 13. If the court upholds the impeachment and removes Park from office, South Korea will hold a presidential election within 60 days.

In another article released on Tuesday, the People's Daily admonished the US and South Korea to stop using the threat of North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles as an excuse for deploying the THAAD system on China's doorsteps.

The introduction of the THAAD system to South Korea will "not only lead to the deterioration of tensions in the Korean Peninsula, but also cause a new round of arms race in Northeast Asia", the article said.

Over the past several years, the US has gone out of its way to deploy its THAAD system in Northeast Asia in a push that takes aim at China and Russia and incorporates the Korean Peninsula into its global anti-missile shield.

"It is an indisputable fact that the THAAD system's X-band radar allows a detection range that surpasses 2,000 kilometers..., which will put some countries (referring to China and Russia) in the region under the US surveillance," the article said, adding that China's determination and ability to safeguard its national security cannot be underestimated.

The article also hinted that some South Korean enterprises are being counterproductive to maintaining regional stability, saying that any move that seeks self-security by jeopardizing the security of other countries will pay the piper.

Since November when the news about the land swap deal broke out, Lotte has met a string of frustrations in China where the construction of its project in the northeastern city of Shenyang was suspended, its flagship store on the largest online shopping platform Taobao was closed and its three supermarkets were shut down.

The nationalist-leaning Global Times echoed the People's Daily in its editorial published on Tuesday, in which it called for an end to Lotte's business in China.

The Beijing-based newspaper also raised a proposal that the Chinese society should boycott South Korean cultural goods and entertainment exports to China.

It is reported that China's video-sharing websites have recently blocked the streaming services of South Korean music and dramas, in a sign of Beijing's retaliation against the land swap deal.

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