A Chinese state-run newspaper warned Friday that bilateral ties between Seoul and Beijing would be "shattered" if an advanced U.S. missile-defense system is deployed in South Korea.
The Global Times made the comments in an editorial on the day when U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was in South Korea, a visit that is aimed at bolstering America's diplomatic and military rebalancing to Asia.
In Seoul, Carter told reporters that the U.S. is not yet ready to discuss with South Korea the possible deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system.
"Both the U.S. and South Korea claim the installation of the defense system is aimed at containing North Korea, not China," said an editorial in the paper published by the ruling Communist Party.
"However, this is viewed as 'words to beguile kids' by almost every Chinese military analyst. One thing is for certain -- the Chinese public's accumulating goodwill toward Seoul would be severely battered if THAAD finally lands in South Korea, and the foundation of the bilateral ties would be shattered," it said.
China's concerns over the possible deployment of the THAAD battery have been known, but the language used by the newspaper took a more caustic tone.
To better cope with the growing threats of North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities, both South Korean and U.S. officials have indicated the need for the THAAD battery.
Arguing that the U.S. missile-defense system also targets China, Beijing has publicly pressed Seoul not to accept the THAAD battery. In return, South Korea's defense ministry has blamed China for trying to "influence" Seoul's security policy.
South Korea and the U.S. have called for China, the economic lifeline of North Korea, to do more in reining in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, but China's stance over its ideological ally, Pyongyang, has often been self-contradictory.
Many analysts believe that China's Communist Party leadership won't put enough pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions because a sudden collapse of the North's regime could threaten China's own security interests. (Yonhap)