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U.S. asks China to end Thaad retaliation

Beijing has ‘waged campaign of diplomatic bullying,’ says McCain
Mar 25,2017
A bipartisan resolution was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday calling on China to “cease its retaliatory measures” against South Korea over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad.

The resolution, introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho, chairman of U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, “condemns China’s retaliatory measures against the Republic of Korea, its businesses and its people in response to the deployment of the Thaad to protect against North Korea.”

It states that China’s retaliatory measures against South Korea, its businesses and people, are “unreasonable and inappropriate” and “potentially constitutes a violation of its World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations.”

The House resolution is the first of its kind, openly calling out Beijing for its strong backlash against the South Korean entertainment industry and businesses, following the announcement to deploy the U.S.-led antimissile system last July and the completion of the government’s land swap deal with Lotte Group to deploy the battery at its golf course in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang at the end of last month.

The resolution goes on to urge Beijing to “immediately cease its diplomatic intimidation and economic coercion” against South Korea in an attempt to block the deployment of the Thaad battery, which it calls a ‘‘strictly defensive capability’’ that ‘‘poses no threat to other countries in the region.”

It was also backed by congressmen, including Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican from Alabama and chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Rep. Peter Roskam, a Republican from Illinois, Rep. Ami Bera, a Democrat from California, and Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia.

The resolution also calls on China to “exercise its considerable influence to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs instead of undermining South Korea’s sovereign right to defend itself against the North Korean threat.”

This resolution is expected to exert pressure on Beijing as it comes ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, expected to be held at the Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida in early April.

“With the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States, it is important, through this resolution, that we support the timely deployment of the Thaad system in South Korea and urge China to cease its unwarranted retaliation against South Korea in response to the deployment,” said Rep. Yoho, a Republican of Florida, in a statement.

He pointed out that China “has done little to stop North Korea’s provocative and destabilizing behavior,” such as its nuclear tests, ballistic missile launches and use of chemical weapons like the VX nerve agent, referring to the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of the leader of the regime, in Malaysia last month.

Such actions, he said, “pose a direct and serious threat to our key South Korean ally, and to the U.S.-ROK alliance which constitutes a lynchpin of U.S. foreign policy in maintaining peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia and beyond.”

The first components of the Thaad antimissile system, including two launchers, arrived in Korea on March 6.

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Friday that this latest resolution reflects “a stronger level of response by the U.S. Congress against China’s heightened retaliation.” Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued a statement on March 7 that pointed out China has “waged a campaign of diplomatic bullying and economic coercion against South Korea in an attempt to stop the deployment of Thaad.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]