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(2nd LD) S. Korea calls in Chinese envoy to Seoul over THAAD row

All Headlines 17:45 January 05, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS more comments in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's foreign ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador on Thursday to deliver its position on China's recent measures against Korean businesses in apparent retaliation of Seoul's planned deployment of a U.S. missile defense system.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said its officials held talks with Chinese Ambassador to Seoul Qiu Guohong on pending issues, including China's recent retaliatory actions over the plan to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

"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 South Koreans' safety and lives from the evolving nuclear and missile threats from the North.

The summon came as China appears to be intensifying its retaliatory steps for the THAAD decision by placing restrictive measures on the 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.

The spokesman said that the government is keeping close tabs on such retaliatory steps taken by China, but noted that a single issue should not affect bilateral ties in a negative manner, a stance that it continues to deliver to Beijing.

"Bearing in mind that we have to maintain the principle that national interest should always come first when it comes to security issues, we will also make efforts to minimize any impact they could have on bilateral relations with China," he added.

pbr@yna.co.kr

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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