The main concern for Beijing at the moment regarding the deployment of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is that, its part of U.S strategy to build missile defense system here in South Korea that can easily cover the whole Korean Peninsula and I believe is a way or future measure to contain the rising influence of China in the region and in some way to stop its growing ambitions in the region.
China’s anxiety is not about the deployment of THAAD but more so of the THAAD’s X-Band Radar Surveillance System that has the ability to monitor Chinese missile tests at its northern and eastern coasts.
According to the U.S with its present setup of THAAD in South Korea, it has a range of 600km that will be able to detect and monitor launches from North Korea. But if the radar is reconfigured then the detection range of THAAD can be up to 2000km. This can put the Chinese missile launches under South Korea’s THAAD monitor and detection range.
But lets not forget that China’s this recent sudden strong retaliation against the deployment of THAAD is not because of the THHAD being deployed ahead of schedule but it dates back to 13 July, 2016 when Seoul announced the deployment of THAAD. At that time Beijing did not take the decision lightly as the timing of the decision was not right as a day earlier China lost its territorial claims in South China Sea in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague.
“I am of the view that U.S ambitions to control the Chinese influence in the region will not stop here and try to grow its military might and defense capabilities in countries such as Vietnam, Japan, Philippines and Taiwan. The rationale behind this is that Philippines and Vietnam already argue that part of South China sea belong to them. Vietnam last year installed several mobile rocket launchers on its islands in retaliation to China’s territorial claim over South China Sea.”
Therefore THAAD can act as a counter measure step to stop China’s claim and its advancement in South China Sea. THAAD’s X-Band Radar can be used to spy on its military activities.
I believe there is a lot riding on the issue of deployment of THAAD and Seoul-Beijing relations depend a whole lot on how this issue of deployment is resolved over the course of time or maybe even delayed and let the next incoming government decide its fate. As of today the Ms Park’s impeachment, she becomes the first democratically elected president to be removed from office who could face prosecution over corruption allegations. An election must be held within 60 days.
Moon Jae-in is the former head of the opposition Democratic Party, is one who might be the possible favorite. He is against the deployment of THAAD. Recently he told reporters “I don’t understand why the government is doing it this way, I believe the next government can make a rational decision that meets the interests of security and the economy through consultations with the U.S and
China. Speeding up the deployment will only leave little room in diplomacy for the next government.”
Lately in the media and among people there has been a lot of talk about Chinese double standards regarding the issue of THAAD’s deployment. Beijing’s economic retaliation against Seoul include; placing direct or indirect restrictions on Chinese tourist visiting South Korea, banning South Korean entertainment content and halting the South Korea’s largest retail group Lotte Mart’s operation in China, which has considerable business there.
Some analysts and observers believe that U.S stands by South Korea in hour of need and a more trust worthy partner than China. I would like to bring to their notice here that even some of the THAAD parts are here and the setup will be complete by April, 2017 but still Trump and his Administration is already looking in into renegotiating the trade deal between the two countries. The deal is known as the Korean U.S. Free Trade Agreement or KORUS FTA. During the U.S. presidential campaign, Trump threatened to make changes to the bilateral free trade deal and now he might fulfill his promise to the American people. Trump called the deal as “job killing.”
President Donald Trump wants to impose higher taxes for companies who manufacture abroad for U.S. consumers. As a result South Korea’s LG Electronics said it would spend $250 million to build a new factory in the United States. This clearly shows that U.S also has double standards. By highlighting this it is not my intention that U.S is not good for South Korea or
change its ties but to understand that every country protects its own interests the best possible way it can. Not to forget that with deployment of THAAD U.S is not only protecting South Korea from its enemies but also in turn protecting its own interests in the region. The U.S is further building its
military defense and strike capabilities in the region in which it sees China and North Korea as a threat. On one hand Mr. Trump at home is pushing for made in USA while abroad flexing and showing its military might.
As a result it’s better for Seoul to think about its own interest in the longer run not just short term and do not make drastic decisions in fear and follow someone’s personal agenda so it does not have to repent later. No doubt it cannot trust North Korea in any way but also should not be bullied by their rhetoric of war and their missile tests.
We must not forget that Seoul has to bear the actual cost of THAAD and all the additional military personal. A reminder what Trump said in an interview with NBC, “We get practically nothing compared to the cost of” keeping U.S. military forces in South Korea. Currently, South Korea pays well over $800 million annually to support the United States’ troop presence, an amount that doesn’t qualify as “practically nothing.”
So Seoul might end up paying more not only for the American troops here but also for the cost of THAAD. It might even do harm to its own economy with a renegotiated trade deal with the U.S as it might be obliged or compelled to by President Trump.
There is no doubt that South Korea’s political stability and economic success is due to ROK-US alliance but due to China’s market growth and size, South Korea is increasingly becoming more & more dependent on China’s economy.
With the present atmosphere surrounding THAAD issue and Seoul which has already decided to go ahead with the its complete deployment by April while new elections are to be held in May 2017 and a mindset in the U.S things seems more uncertain than to be heading towards normalization of relations between the three.
“South Korea not only has to manage its security in the best possible manner and a responsibility to protect its people from any foreign threat but renew its diplomatic strategy in such a manner that it can maintain healthy bilateral relations with the U.S and China harmoniously in the present circumstances but not at the behest of each other. It’s time the three resolve the issue of the deployment of THAAD and ROK-US alliance assure China that its security is not undermined in any way now or in the future.”
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