South Korea's foreign minister raised the need on Thursday for the nation's private businesses and cultural industry to reduce their dependence on China to hedge against strained bilateral ties as shown recently by a dispute over Seoul's missile shield plan.
The government faces growing calls at home to cancel its agreement with the United States to install a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in the country next year, as China took the apparently retaliatory actions of curbing South Korean trade, entertainment and business projects.
In a year-end press meeting, Minister Yun Byung-se defended Seoul's position to deal sternly with China's vindictive moves while calling for the private sector's cooperation to ensure that national security interests will not be compromised by business concerns.
"If China reacts this way to our sovereign decision in order to see us reverse the THAAD decision, there needs to be a stern response on the government level, but the private sector should also see this in a broader point of view," Yun told reporters.
Yun said South Korea should neither underestimate nor overestimate Chinese actions.
"As Seoul-Beijing ties have became too close in terms of economic and human exchanges, the ripple effect of a discord could inevitably grow greater," Yun said. South Korea should seek market diversification to reduce its reliance on China, he added.
"Even when South Korea and China are in the best relationship, things like this can happen if the two countries' interests collide," Yun added.(Yonhap)