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(LEAD) S. Korea calls in Chinese envoy to Seoul over THAAD row

All News 16:06 January 05, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS spokesman's comments, more info throughout)

SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministry called in the Chinese ambassador to South Korea on Thursday as diplomatic tensions grew over Seoul's plan to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system.

Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong was summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier in the day, according to the ministry.

Its officials discussed pending issues, including China's recent retaliatory actions over the plan to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, with the envoy.

"We made clear our stance on major issues," Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck told reporters at a regular press briefing.

He reaffirmed that the planned THAAD deployment is a sovereign and self-defense action aimed at protecting our people's safety and lives from the evolving nuclear and missile threats from the North.

The move came as China appears to be intensifying its retaliatory steps against the THAAD decision by putting restrictive measures on trade and cultural sectors involving South Korea.

Popular South Korean entertainers have virtually been banned from performing in China since late last year as the bilateral relations soured over the deployment plan, which China accused of compromising its regional security interests.

A week earlier, the Chinese government also rejected South Korean airlines' plan to operate chartered flights to China ahead of the busy Chinese New Year holiday season.

The Chinese government is denying any official involvement in such steps.

Currently, a group of lawmakers from South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party are in Beijing to meet with Chinese officials and exchange views on pending issues between the two countries, including THAAD.

In a meeting with the lawmakers Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly called for South Korea to halt the planned THAAD deployment, a demand deemed by some critics here as an attempt to infringe upon the country's sovereignty.

In the face of growing pressure from Beijing, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se earlier said that the government is mulling "necessary" countermeasures, which will be drawn up based on thorough analysis of steps taken by China and close cooperation among relevant ministries and agencies.



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