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Main opposition defends visit to China

All Headlines 12:03 January 05, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party said Thursday its lawmakers' visit to China to discuss the deployment of a controversial U.S. missile defense system was reasonable, refuting the claim that the move was "betrayal of the country."

"South Korea's foreign ministry cannot even meet key figures of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's campaign. Opposition lawmakers' meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was something the South Korean ambassador to China should have done," Rep. Woo Sang-ho of the Democratic Party said.

"The opposition party is actually doing something that the government couldn't. It should be encouraged," Woo added.

A group of opposition lawmakers, who oppose the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in the country, earlier visited Beijing to exchange views on the latest tension between the two countries.

"Diplomacy should be carried out in various ways, including by the government, parliament and private sector so as to benefit national interests," Woo said.

With China also expressing protest against the deployment, however, conservative lawmakers condemned the visit, adding the action is a breach of sovereignty. The ruling Saenuri Party called the visit a humiliation and act of betrayal to South Korea.

Saenuri said if the Democratic Party wishes to win the next election it must end bargaining over the country's sovereignty with a foreign power. Local conservative parties and the government support the deployment as an option to improve its defense capabilities against the North.

"If the Democratic Party is opposing the deployment, they should provide another option to defend the country from North Korea's missile attacks," Rep. Jeong Yong-ki of Saenuri said.

The planned New Conservative Party for Reform, which spun off from Saenuri, also claimed that North Korea would not have made nuclear provocations if Beijing played its role, adding it is unreasonable for China to seek economic retaliation to penalize Seoul for the THAAD deployment.

colin@yna.co.kr
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