South Korea, China aim to repair frayed ties


South Korea and China have agreed to get their relationship “back on track” more than a year after Seoul’s decision to deploy the United States’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system.

The American anti-missile system, which is designed to shoot down short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase, is aimed at containing a North Korean missile attack.

Viewed by Beijing as a security threat, the THAAD issue has prompted both overt protests by China and unofficial economic retaliatory measures such as barring large group tours to South Korea.

A statement from Seoul’s Foreign Ministry carried by Yonhap News Agency Tuesday revealed the two sides have “agreed to expeditiously bring exchanges and cooperation in all areas back onto a normal track”.

While China still “opposes the deployment,” according to the ministry, “the two agreed to engage in communication on THAAD-related issues”.

A day earlier, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha insisted that South Korea is not considering expanding the THAAD deployment beyond the current six launchers installed earlier this year.

These developments will be a boost for President Moon Jae-in on the back of a currency swap deal with China.

In a further sign of warming ties, South Korea’s presidential office also announced a second summit between Moon and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping next week when they attend a regional leaders’ gathering in Vietnam.

Credits: Alex Jensen AA