Monday, February 27, 2017

#CHINE: Commentary: Lotte's land swap for THAAD means opening a Pandora's box

South Korea's Lotte Group approved the land swap with thegovernment here on Monday to enable the deployment of the controversial U.S. missiledefence system known as THAAD, virtually opening a Pandora's box in Northeast Asia. The swap, which gives the South Korean defense ministry the Lotte Skyhill Country Clubin Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province, for the deployment of the U.S. TerminalHigh Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, paves way for a speedy installation of thesystem by late June at the earliest.
THAAD's planned deployment is in the name of protecting South Korea's security from theneighboring Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Yet ironically, THAAD mightnot be able to intercept DPRK missiles targeting South Korea's territory, as THAAD isdesigned to shoot down missiles at a relatively high altitude of 40 to 150 km, but theDPRK's rockets fly at a lower altitude of about 20 km. What's worse, South Korea's drinking poison to quench a thirst might further irritate theDPRK and make it speed up nuke development by building more nuclear bombs andtesting more missiles. THAAD's arrival would only escalate the military confrontationbetween the two sides and bring more danger to regional security. South Korea's THAAD deployment decision has also met strong opposition from Chinaand Russiaas THAAD's powerful X-band radar can detect as far as 2,000 km, well intoChinese and Russian territories, allowing the U.S. to monitor flights and missile launchesof the two countries conveniently.
China has expressed strong dissatisfaction with the THAAD deployment as it damagesChina's security interests and breaks a strategic balance in the region, while Russia hasindicated a military response by deploying a missile unit in the Far Eastern region. Beijingand Moscow have agreed to take "further countermeasures" once the system is installed. South Korea has also set a bad example for Japanon the THAAD issue, which also claimsthat its national security is threatened by the DPRK's missile and nuclear developments. IfJapan also chooses to become a U.S. "military colony" and deploy THAAD, the situation inNortheast Asia would become even more complicated.
It's obvious that the THAAD deployment is a key step for the United Statesto build anAsian version NATO, and an important move for the U.S. to build an anti-missile systemin the western pacific region. In general, the THAAD deployment would cause more problems than it solves -- Not onlyhas it little use of shielding Seoul from a possible Pyongyang missile attack, but it will alsodefinitely increase tension in Northeast Asia, leaving very little interest to South Koreaitself -- which is quite contrary to the Blue House's initial intention.
The THAAD deployment, which is obviously a bad deal for South Korea and the regionthough superficially a good one for the U.S., virtually means the opening of a Pandora'sbox in Noretheast Asia and beyond that the very perpetrators can hardly bring undercontrol.

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