China Threatens Arms Race Over U.S. Missile Defense

Trucks are seen carrying parts required to set up the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system that had arrived at the Osan Air Base on March 6 / Getty Images

 

THAAD deployed to South Korea

China on Tuesday reacted harshly to the U.S. military’s deployment of an advanced missile defense system to South Korea—one day after North Korea fired a salvo of 600-mile range missiles toward Japan.

The first battery of the Army’s Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, a long-range mobile missile defense system, arrived in South Korea on Tuesday for deployment to a location in the southeastern part of the country.

“We solemnly object to South Korea and the U.S. deployment of THAAD and will resolutely take necessary actions in order to safeguard our security interests,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing.

“We will take steps to maintain our security interests,” he said.

Official Chinese state-run propaganda outlets have warned in recent days that the THAAD deployment could result in a break in relations with South Korea, a trading partner.

China also has taken steps to sanction the South Korean Lotte conglomerate, forcing the closure of 23 retail stores in China. Lotte provided the land for the THAAD batteries.

The deployment has been delayed for three years over Chinese pressure on South Korea. The defenses were first requested by U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti in early 2014 to respond to growing North Korean missile threats.

The Obama administration, however, prevented the deployment over concerns it would upset China.

The official Xinhua news agency warned that THAAD would produce “an arms race in the region.”

China is opposing the missile defense system because its powerful radar allows sensors to peer into Chinese territory in northeastern China where a large number of missiles are deployed.

China also has alleged in state media reports that THAAD, along with sea-based Aegis warships equipped with missile defenses, are part of a U.S. effort to set up a networked regional missile defense system.

The Pentagon and Trump administration has remained silent on the Chinese bluster against THAAD.

North Korea on Monday launched a salvo of four missiles identified by military analysts as Scud ER missile that were launched from northwestern North Korea into the Sea of Japan, including areas of Japan’s 200 mile exclusive economic zone.

North Korean state media said the missiles were a test of a future attack on U.S. military bases in Japan.

The U.S. military operates Yokota air base in Japan that is a major hub for U.S. power projection in the region. The Yokosuka naval base also is a major military base.

The first two THAAD batteries arrived by transport aircraft at Osan air base, about 40 miles south of Seoul.

Full article: China Threatens Arms Race Over U.S. Missile Defense (Washington Free Beacon)

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