Qingdao, 10 August 2022 (TDI): Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, on Tuesday had an in-depth exchange of views on the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) issue with Park Jin, Foreign Minister of South Korea, during discussions in Qingdao.

The two sides discussed their different viewpoints and came to an understanding that they should value each other’s security concerns. Both states also agreed to work together to appropriately address the THAAD problem so that it does not negatively impact their bilateral relations.

Chinese concerns about THAAD deployment

The US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile defense system is a contentious political issue between South Korea and China.

In response to increasing North Korean threats, South Korea opted to install THAAD in July 2016. However, Beijing is concerned that the system’s radar may enter its territory and threaten the balance of regional security.

Beijing was strongly against this defense system of South Korea. Moreover, China worries that it may be used to destroy Chinese missiles or that its radar could spy on China.

China opposed the deployment of THAAD and requested South Korea to remove the system. However, South Korea refused this request. The conflict damaged bilateral cooperation, resulting in an estimated revenue loss of US$15.6 billion. Additionally, South Korea’s perception of China also deteriorated.

Strengthen bilateral ties

The visit of South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, to Beijing in December 2017 eased tensions. The ties between South Korea and China appear to be improving on the surface.

In the meeting on Tuesday, China and South Korea agreed to jointly maintain the stability of the supply chains. Wang said that certain countries have politicized the economy, used trade as a weapon, and weaponized standards. This weakens the security of international supply and production networks.

Moreover, the two states are both beneficiaries and architects of the global free trade system. Wang urged South Korea to jointly oppose such activities that go against market principles and maintain the security and stability of supply chains.

Both states agreed to speed up negotiations on the second phase of free trade agreement (FTA) talks. Both sides will be maintaining the stability of the supply chains, trade and investments, and stick to the principles of non-discrimination, and transparency.

In the first half of 2022, the amount of bilateral commerce increased 9.4 per cent year over year to $184.25 billion. Furthermore, because of the economic concern, both states agreed to firmly handle the THAAD issue.