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A familiar feeling (KOR)

Aug 12,2019
SHIN KYUNG-JIN
The author is a Beijing correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

On August 6, director of the Department of Arms Control Fu Cong entered a news conference room at China’s Foreign Ministry. The Chinese government quickly arranged the conference after the United States mentioned missile deployment after officially leaving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

Fu sternly said that China expressed deep regret in the United States succeeding from the INF, and if the United States deployed intermediate range missiles in Asia, China would not condone it and respond accordingly. Fu also said that China would not participate in trilateral nuclear armament reduction talks with the United States and Russia.

Questions followed. Isn’t it hypocritical for China to refuse to participate in the trilateral talks when it deploys missiles in the disputed region in the South China Sea? What will China do if the United States deploys missiles in Guam or if allies Korea and Japan agree to missile deployment?

Fu did not hesitate to answer. China deployed intermediate range missiles in its territory, and they are defensive. The United States is talking about deploying missiles in other countries, which China considers offensive. Therefore, it is not hypocritical. Having experienced the Cuban missile crisis, American citizens would understand how China feels.

After the conference, I asked about the North Korean missile launched in its territory earlier that day. I was told that intention and effect of one or two test launches should not be overanalyzed.

I left the foreign ministry and headed to the Korean Embassy. I attended a monthly briefing by a high-level official. It was asked whether intermediate range missile deployment by the United States violates the so-called 3 Nos — not participating in US missile defense, not promoting a trilateral military alliance with the United States and Japan, and not allowing additional U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) deployment. The official said that there has not been official request or discussion from the United States, and the defense ministry said that it hadn’t reviewed it and didn’t have a plan to do so.

A group of retired generals supported intermediate-range missile deployment earlier this month, claiming that it could be a way to achieve a nuclear balance when the possibility of North Korea’s denuclearization is slim. Before the Thaad deployment, the previous administration maintained that the 3 Nos was their policy. The scene I saw three years ago in Beijing seems to be resurfacing lately.