Seoul announced last year that it had reached an agreement with Washington to install the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on South Korean soil, a controversial move that provoked China’s strong opposition. South Korea has recently been complaining that it has been subjected to “indirect” retaliation by China, including in the field of aerial transport.
“We plan to present the relation between China’s actions that have been pointed out by our companies and the THAAD deployment during a meeting on Friday regarding the free trade agreement between South Korea and China,” said South Korean Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan at the country’s parliament on Thursday.
He added that Seoul would also express its concerns about Beijing’s behavior at the meeting.
Joo’s comments came a week after his fellow cabinet member, Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho, also said that China was suspected of taking “indirect action” over Seoul’s decision to deploy THAAD on its soil.
Beijing recently rejected requests by South Korean carriers to operate charter flights between the two Asian nations, a move that has been interpreted by some as a response to the deployment of the THAAD. Yoo had earlier said that Seoul was looking into whether China’s decision to block charter flights was a retaliatory measure.
In response to Yoo’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said last Friday that Beijing had an “open and positive attitude” toward trade ties with Seoul but “this requires a foundation of close friendship.”
Seoul and Washington claim the THAAD missile system, to be deployed late this year, is intended to counter perceived threats posed by the North Korean missile and nuclear programs.
China says issues with North Korea should be resolved through dialog, not escalatory military countermeasures such as the deployment of the THAAD.
The announcement of the system’s deployment has also triggered many protests within South Korea itself.