Author: Cao Siqi
Posted on:  Global Times, March 11th, 2017




The unanimous decision to oust former South Korean President Park Geun-hye may speed up the process of the deployment of a US missile defense system, Chinese experts said, noting that the chances of a warming up of Sino-South Korean relationship in a short term are slim.

Park was permanently removed from office on Friday as the country’s constitutional court upheld the impeachment motion.

The former president, who was sworn in as the country’s first female president in February 2013, was dishonorably forced to leave her office and became the first elected leader to be ousted, with her five-year presidency unfinished. She took office as the 18th president after winning a majority of vote in the December 2012 presidential election.

South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is serving as acting president, on Friday asked all parties concerned to respect the constitutional court’s ruling on Park.

The acting president said he felt a grave responsibility following the first impeachment of the president in the constitutional history, and pledged to manage the affairs of the state with an unusually strong determination.

«The result is as expected, as she had been promoting the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system which is against the will of the nation’s public. The ouster prevented an acrimonious division in the South Korean society and a major political turmoil,» said Lü Chao, an expert on Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.

All sides will actively prepare for the presidential election and the pro-US political forces will be pitted against the democratic forces. The election will be held in a comparatively stable situation, said Lü.

The presidential election is forecast to be held on May 9 as a new president should be elected within 60 days. Hwang emerged as the best hope among conservative voters as there is no outstanding rival in the conservative camp, Xinhua reported.

Controversial policy

«Removing Park from office may speed up the process of THAAD deployment as the conservative camp, especially the army, still is the major force supporting the project,» an expert on South Korean studies told the Global Times on Friday on condition of anonymity.

Some equipment for the THAAD system, including launch vehicles, has been delivered to South Korea for deployment.

Lü said that no matter who will be the next president, the THAAD deployment will be realized by the Korean government. In the next two months, conflicts related to the system will become more intense.

China has strongly opposed the deployment and the Chinese are shunning some Korean products and companies.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at Friday’s news briefing that China had spoken positively about efforts Park had made to improve China-South Korea relations when she was in office. «However, as for her decision to deploy the THAAD system, China has expressed definite opposition,» Geng said.

He declined to comment on Park’s impeachment because it is a «domestic affair» of South Korea but expressed hope that South Korea would «regain political stability as soon as possible.»

Impact on bilateral ties

Because of Park’s THAAD policy, Seoul has dealt a massive blow to its relationship with China, a consistent and determined advocate for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Some South Korean-style restaurants in China ended their relationship with Lotte after the group signed an agreement with the South Korean military to provide land for the deployment. Moreover, domestic travel agencies have also removed tourism services to South Korea from their online platforms.

Chinese experts predict the impeachment ruling will not lead to a major improvement in the Sino-South Korean ties.

«Although Park has stepped down, her supporters, the conservatives, will try to regain power. The South Korean politics may witness some instability in the near future. In the short term, it is unlikely the ties between the two countries would get warmer,» said Wang Junsheng, a research fellow on East Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Moreover, experts warned that China should also be vigilant over any conflict on the Korean Peninsula.




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