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(2nd LD) China denounces Seoul, Washington's decision to deploy THAAD in S. Korea

All Headlines 17:45 July 08, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with Chinese foreign ministry spokesman's remarks in last 4 paras)

BEIJING, July 8 (Yonhap) -- China's foreign ministry on Friday said it strongly opposes the decision by South Korea and the United States to deploy an advanced antiballistic missile system on South Korean soil.

China expressed "strong discontent and firm opposition" against the two countries' agreement to place the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea.

"The THAAD system does not help achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and also hurts peace and stability in the region," China's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Beijing warned that if the system is deployed, it will "seriously" impair China and other countries' strategic interests and the security balance in Northeast Asia.

China's reaction came as Seoul and Washington announced the deployment of the advanced missile defense system here in a bid to counter North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threats. The allies have been engaged in talks for the past five months.

China and Russia have explicitly expressed opposition against the THAAD deployment in South Korea on concerns that the move could hurt their strategic security interests.

Beijing claims that the system can be used against it on concerns that the powerful X-band radar that comes with THAAD could spy on China's military.

Washington said that THAAD is a purely defensive system aimed only at North Korea's evolving threats.

On Friday, Seoul said it had already notified China and Russia of its decision to deploy the THAAD missiles a day earlier.

Still, China's foreign ministry called in the top South Korean and U.S. envoys to Beijing to lodge a protest.

"China expressed its strict concern to the ambassadors of relevant countries," ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a regular press briefing.

Asked if Beijing plans to take any other steps, Hong simply said South Korea and the U.S. should stop the deployment process.

South Korean Ambassador to China Kim Jang-soo was called to the ministry in February after the allies announced the start of formal negotiations on THAAD in response to the North's long-range rocket launch on Feb. 7.

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