UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Global Times

China urges SK to stick to commitment despite change of govt, as 'Three No's' on THAAD 'plays key role in mutual trust'

Global Times

By GT staff reporters Published: Jul 27, 2022 11:30 PM

"A commitment made should be a commitment kept despite change of government," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Wednesday, urging South Korea to act prudently over the major issues concerning the security of its neighbors, after the South Korean foreign ministry claimed that the preceding Moon Jae-in government's "Three No's" policy over the THAAD issue is not a commitment to China.

South Korea's statement on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in 2017 played a key role in saving bilateral relations from falling into an abyss, and the current changed attitude is a new way for South Korea to fawn on the US, analysts said, warning that the Yoon Suk-yeol government has fallen into "flunkeyism" to the US and lost diplomatic independence.

No matter which party takes office, no matter what political needs it has domestically, it needs to ensure basic continuity and stability in its foreign policy, Zhao said at a regular press conference on Wednesday, stressing that it is the proper way to deal with relations with neighbors.

Zhao's comments came after South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said at the National Assembly on Monday that the principle of the "Three No's" policy on the THAAD issue, announced by the Moon administration in 2017, is not a commitment to China or an agreement between the two sides, but a statement of South Korea's own position, reported the Yonhap News Agency.

The "Three No's" policy over THAAD refers to no participation in the US' missile defense network, no establishment of a trilateral military alliance with the US and Japan, and no additional THAAD deployment.

China's opposition to the US deployment of THAAD in South Korea is not aimed at South Korea, but at the US's malignant attempt to harm China's strategic security. The statement made by South Korea on the THAAD issue in 2017 played a key role in enhancing mutual trust and deepening cooperation between China and South Korea, Zhao said, noting that trust is the basis for the development of international relations, which was also stressed in China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's first meeting with Park in May.

It is chicanery for Seoul to deny that the "Three No's" is not a promise to China, Yang Xiyu, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The "Three No's" is a vital result of bilateral communication between China and South Korea, so it certainly is an official stance and a promise by South Korea to China over the THAAD issue. Withdrawing the "Three No's" promise would further damage bilateral ties and the Yoon administration's credibility, especially when China-South Korean ties are in a delicate period since President Yoon took office and tilted to the US, Yang said.

China opposed the deployment of THAAD over concerns of its own security, and the deployment led to outrage toward South Korea among the Chinese, plunging bilateral relations to their lowest in decades.

President Yoon, who aims to strengthen the US-South Korea alliance, talked about the THAAD deployment to the public during his presidential election campaign and raised concerns. But the additional deployment was not included in the Yoon administration's key policy tasks outlined by the transition team in May.

The Yoon government has been committed to pulling closer relations with the US through making US-favored policies on many issues. Park's statement over the THAAD issue is one latest way for South Korea to fawn on the US, Lü Chao, a researcher with the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

The US has ramped up efforts in pressing the new South Korean government to closely follow its baton. Yoon's government has also struggled to completely follow the US' lead as the country has to take consideration of its independent position, economic development and public opinion, Lü said.

Many people in South Korea expressed disappointment and disagreement toward Yoon's coming too close to the US as it brings no good or respect to South Korea. For example, many South Korean netizens noted several embarrassing moments Yoon encountered when attending the NATO summit in Spain in June, including a photo of him closing his eyes when taking a group photo, which was captured and hyped by Western media including Voice of America and released on NATO's official website, showing that the US and its Western allies just wanted to use South Korea for geopolitical games.

"The THAAD issue is a very serious sore point in the relations between China and South Korea and seriously affected the smooth development of bilateral relations," Lü said, urging Yoon's government to act cautiously, especially on this sensitive issue.

Recently, many people in South Korea protested to oppose the deployment of THAAD. Around a hundred people from the anti-THAAD association told a press conference in June that all the procedures of the US missile shield deployment have been abnormal and illegal, given the deployment decision without consent from residents and parliament, the absence of an environmental impact assessment, and the operation and the site construction under the name of "temporary deployment," media reported.

Yang noted that the Yoon administration has been proactive in moving closer to the US and serving as a pawn for the US' Indo-Pacific Strategy. Such moves show that some personnel in South Korea had fallen into "flunkeyism" to the US and lost their diplomatic independence.

If South Korea continues to go its own way on the THAAD issue, China certainly would take corresponding actions to safeguard its interests. At that time the two friendly neighbors would get trapped in a security dilemma, which neither of the two sides would like to see, and perhaps only the US wants to see the issue ending up like that, Yang said.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list