Anger in China as US missile defence system starts arriving in South Korea
Beijing: China has likened the United States and North Korea to two speeding trains heading for a crash.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said tension was rising on the Korean Peninsula as North Korea ignored international resolutions, firing missiles and developing nuclear weapons, while the US and South Korea continued “enormous scale” military exercises.
He said the two sides were like “two accelerating trains coming toward each other with neither willing to give way”.
China would try to flash the red lights to defuse a looming crisis, he told journalists in Beijing.
China opposes a controversial missile defence shield that the US began to deploy in South Korea on Tuesday, a day after four missiles were fired by North Korea into the sea off Japan.
Mr Wang said China proposed North Korea halt its missile activity in return for the US halting large military exercises with South Korea. He said this would bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.
“Talks deserve another chance and peace is within our grasp, ” he said.
Earlier the arrival in South Korea of the first components of a controversial US-backed missile defence shield has drew a strong rebuke from China.
Just 24 hours after four ballistic missiles were test-fired by North Korea into the Japanese economic zone, the US military said it had delivered two mobile launchers and the first equipment for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) to Osan Air Base outside Seoul.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday the US and South Korea were on the “wrong road” and China would “resolutely take measures to defend China’s security interests”.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said the “consequences will be shouldered by the US and South Korea”.
China opposes the defence shield and Chinese state media has previously warned the system would cause an escalating arms race in the region.
It is expected the system could be operational as soon as July.
Chinese media had reported the latest North Korean missile tests were a response to South Korean and US military exercises. Beijing has instead called for a return to negotiations with North Korea.
China earlier this week announced a defence budget of 1.3 per cent of GDP in 2017, representing slowing growth in military spending of 7 per cent this year.
The THAAD is designed to shoot down short to medium-range ballistic missiles from North Korea and has a range of 200 kilometres.
Analysts have said the system’s powerful radar may be capable of monitoring Chinese missiles within China.
South Korean retailer Lotte has recently seen multiple stores in China closed down by local officials for fire safety breaches. Lotte has agreed to swap land in South Korea to allow a THAAD base to be built, but China has denied the closures were sanctions related to the THAAD.
Chinese authorities have also denied visas to South Korean pop stars who frequently perform on the mainland; rejected imports of South Korean cosmetics; and scrubbed at least five enormously popular South Korean TV shows from Chinese video streaming sites.
The US Pacific Command posted on Twitter that the THAAD delivery was part of its commitment to the US-South Korea alliance. #THAAD deploys to the Korean Peninsula; this purely defensive system honors our alliance commitments to the #ROK. https://t苏州夜生活/I4bPDh9wRtpic.twitter苏州夜网/apqqQkv6Ch??? U.S. Pacific Command (@PacificCommand) March 7, 2017