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Newsline: China’s, South Korea’s diplomats clash over anti-missile system

South Korea’s government stressed Wednesday it will make its own decisions in strengthening its defenses against North Korean threats, rejecting Chinese calls that it continue the polices of Seoul’s previous government that refrained from adding more U.S. anti-missile batteries that are strongly opposed by Beijing. Commenting on Tuesday’s meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his South Korean counterpart, Park Jin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin in a briefing Wednesday reaffirmed Beijing’s stance that the THAAD system in South Korea undermines its “strategic security interests.” “The two foreign ministers had another in-depth exchange of views on the THAAD issue, making clear their respective positions and enhancing mutual understanding,” Wang said. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that that it’s a national security matter that Seoul isn’t willing to negotiate with Beijing. “During the meeting, both sides confirmed their differences over the THAAD matter, but also agreed that the issue should not become an obstacle that influences relations between the countries,” the ministry said. (https://news.yahoo.com/china-south-korea-clash-over-144831531.html) The differences between South Korea and China underscored a reemerging rift between the countries just a day after their top diplomats met in eastern China and expressed hope that the issue wouldn’t become a “stumbling stone” in relations. Bilateral ties took a significant hit in 2017 when South Korea installed a missile battery employing the U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, in response to nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. The decision drew an angry reaction from China, which said the anti-missile system could be reconfigured to peer into its territory. South Korea, a longtime U.S. ally, has struggled to strike a balance between the United States and the increasingly assertive foreign policy of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government.

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