China, South Korea agree restore relations after THAAD standoff

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Seoul and Beijing on Tuesday agreed to move beyond a year-long stand-off over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea, a dispute that has been devastating to South Korean businesses that rely on Chinese consumers.

South Korea said it would continue with plans to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence platform to counter the threat of North Korean nuclear missiles, a step China insists has compromised its security. China said that while its position on the Thaad system had not changed, both countries had agreed to disagree on the issue and resume economic ties.

Thaad Standoff 

Background

In late 2016, tension strengthened between China and the Republic of Korea after the United States and South Korea jointly announced the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in response to the continuous nuclear and missile threats by North Korea.

However, despite the U.S.’s statement that the deployment of the THAAD is “purely a defensive measure… only aimed at North Korea” and has no intention to threaten China’s security interests, China has continuously expressed its discontent over South Korea and U.S.’s decision because of its concern that the deployment of THAAD might be a measure by the U.S. to aim China.

 

Dispute between Korea and China

Believing that the THAAD will undermine China’s own nuclear deterrent capability, China’s Ambassador Qiu Guohong warned that the deployment of THAAD could “destroy” the China- South Korea ties in an instant, whereas the spokesperson of the president of South Korea warned China that deploying the THAAD is a “matter we will decide upon according to our own security and national interests.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) 

It is a transportable system that intercepts ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight.

THAAD uses a one-stage hit-to-kill interceptor to destroy incoming ballistic missile targets. THAAD is able to intercept incoming missiles both inside and just outside of the Earth’s atmosphere at a range of 200 kilometers, which mitigates the effects of weapons of mass destruction before they reach the ground.

The ability to intercept both inside and outside the atmosphere makes THAAD an important part of layered missile defense concepts, as it falls between the exclusively exo-atmospheric Aegis interceptors and the exclusively endo-atmospheric Patriot interceptors.

THAAD

Image Source: lockheedmartin

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