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(LEAD) China seen contradictory in its radar in S. China Sea, reaction to THAAD in S. Korea

All News 18:33 February 29, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with fresh quotes, details; CHANGES headline)

BEIJING, Feb. 29 (Yonhap) -- In the south, China is reportedly building radar facilities on an artificial island in the South China Sea to bolster its territorial claims. In the east, China opposes the possible deployment of a U.S. missile-defense system in South Korea.

For South Korea, the decision to adopt the U.S. missile shield, or the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, is based on its national security interests to enhance its defensive posture against North Korea's advances in its nuclear and missile programs.

In the South China Sea, home to strategically vital shipping lanes, China's deployment of radar facilities and surface-to-air missiles on the artificial island has raised tensions among its neighbors and the United States.

China's logic is that the powerful radar of the THAAD battery could target its own territory if it is deployed in South Korea. Both Seoul and Washington officials have dismissed such concerns, saying the U.S. missile shield is defensive in nature and focuses on North Korea's missile activities.

When asked why China is opposing the possible deployment of the THAAD battery in South Korea while building its own radar facilities in the South China Sea, China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei replied that Beijing's deployment of military gear would not affect neighboring countries' security interests.

"China's deployment of necessary and limited national defense facilities will not impact other countries' security interests," Hong said.

"But, the deployment of the THAAD system by the U.S. in South Korea will go far beyond the necessary defense requirement of the U.S.," Hong said. "It will severely damage China's national security interests."

South Korean diplomats in Beijing have said the Chinese opposition to the U.S. missile defense system in South Korea and Beijing's increasingly assertive actions in the South China Sea are self-contradictory because China's actions in the South China Sea hurt the security interests of neighbors, including South Korea.

"The remarks by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman is an indication of China's self-contradictory stance on the two issues," said a South Korean diplomat who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The U.S. and China agreed last week on a set of draft U.N. sanctions against North Korea's Jan. 6 nuclear test and Feb. 7 rocket launch, both of which violated previous U.N. resolutions.

China's chief nuclear envoy, Wu Dawei, arrived in Seoul on Sunday for discussions about the new U.N. resolution, which has yet to be approved by the U.N. Security Council.

During meetings with South Korean officials, Hong said Wu expressed his "solemn position" on the possible deployment of the THAAD battery in South Korea.

"It is hoped that South Korea can seriously take China's concerns and properly deal with the relevant issue," Hong said.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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