Posted on: Global Times, April 27th, 2017
On Wednesday, the US started moving parts of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense system to a planned deployment site in South Korea. How will this action affect the situation on the Korean Peninsula? What role can China play as it faces pressures from the deployment of THAAD and the North Korea’s nuclear threats? Global Times reporter Yang Chuchu talked with two scholars on this topic.
Lü Chao, director of the North and South Korea Research Center at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences:
On May 9, South Korea is going to hold a presidential election to replace the impeached Park Geun-hye. Presidential candidates such as Moon Jae-in have declared their opposition to THAAD. Therefore, the US wants to complete the deployment before the South Korean presidential election, in fear the process may be halted.
Accelerating the deployment of THAAD will only exacerbate tensions on the Korean Peninsula. It will also create diplomatic problems for the next president of South Korea. The reparation of the deteriorating Sino-South Korean relations will be a headache for the incoming president. In addition, the deployment will lead to social unrest in South Korea as it has caused a huge controversy in the country.
Seoul and Washington said the sole purpose of deploying THAAD is to defend against North Korea’s missile attacks. However, this cannot be justified considering that THAAD’s scope of protection has excluded the Seoul Capital Area (SCA). In this case, the protection that THAAD provides is very limited.
In addition, if North Korea launches an attack against South Korea, it might use ordinary artilleries, which THAAD cannot defend against. So the objective of THAAD deployment is not safeguarding against North Korea, but spying on China and Russia.
It was a wise choice for North Korea to not conduct its sixth nuclear test on the 85th anniversary of the establishment of its army. Under the present circumstances on the peninsula, North Korea’s nuclear tests may lead to an armed clash. It is hoped that South Korea and the US would refrain from piling too much military pressure on North Korea while North Korea would stop its provocative actions, contributing to the security and stability of the Korean Peninsula.
The suspension-for-suspension approach offered by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is the best choice for cooling the tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Both South Korea and North Korea need to keep calm and exercise restraint, and stop their provocative activities. Other countries also need to understand North Korea’s security concerns, and should not blindly press North Korea.
Cui Zhiying, director of the Korean Peninsula Research Center at Tongji University:
The US is accelerating the deployment of THAAD as the South Korean election approaches. The US is worried that the incoming administration in South Korea will change its policies toward the deployment, as many presidential candidates have objected to it.
North Korea is opposed to deploying THAAD. But the impact of the deployment on North Korea is limited, considering the exclusion of SCA from the scope of THAAD. If North Korea wants to attack South Korea, the SCA will be its first target. Therefore, THAAD cannot provide the protection South Korea needs.
The deployment of THAAD would have an adverse effect on the peninsula. While the North Korea is undergoing the toughest sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, the deployment will intensify the tensions on the peninsula, damaging the interests of China and Russia, who are participating in the UN sanctions against North Korea, and thwarting the joint efforts against North Korea’s nuclear threats.