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China’s strong opposition to THAAD has sparked concerns in South Korea.
On Tuesday China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing remains resolutely opposed to THAAD.
Beijing objects to the advanced U.S. weapons system as an unnecessary and provocative military escalation, and says the powerful radar the system uses to track incoming missiles also poses a potential threat to China.
The South Korean government is considering filing a complaint to the World Trade Organization against China for allegedly retaliating against some of its companies and canceling performances by Korean artists in response to the Seoul government’s decision to deploy THAAD.
In the last month, China has reportedly rejected applications by some Korean carriers to add charter flights between the two countries, ordered tour operators in China to stop selling trips to South Korea, and closed nearly two dozen retail stores belonging to the Korean Lotte Group.
"We will actively consider whether China's action is in violation of the South Korea-China free trade deal, while stepping up efforts to minimize damage on South Korean industries," said Lee Hyun-jae, chairman of the ruling Liberty Korea Party's policy committee.
While the South Korean ruling party strongly supports THAAD as a vital national security measure, public support is divided and some opposition party leaders have come out against it.
Opponents point out THAAD’s limitations, that it cannot defend against a short range attack on the Seoul region, where nearly half the country’s population resides, and that in the event of a major attack THAAD’s 48 interceptor missiles will do little to stop the more than 1,000 missiles North Korea could fire.
And they argue that the limited military advantage is not worth the cost of damaging relations with China.
“To be honest, deploying THAAD will hurt both us and China. No one will gain anything from it. The starting point of THAAD is wrong, so we have to reconsider it completely. Otherwise, our future will be gloomy, chaotic and insecure," said Lee Jae-myung, the Mayor of Seongnam City and presidential candidate with the opposition Democratic Party of Korea.