China’s attack on Thaad intensifies

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China’s attack on Thaad intensifies

China’s pressure on South Korea over its decision to deploy a U.S.-led antimissile system reached new heights over the weekend, with some Chinese scholars even calling for a change of Korean leadership.

“The decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [Thaad] system in South Korea is exacerbating a political schism in the country and leading to a lot of mud-slinging between the ruling and opposition parties,” said Li Dunqiu, a professor at Zhejiang University, in the China Youth Daily on Saturday.

He added, “In order to solve the crisis, South Korea needs a change in leadership... Its decision to deploy the Thaad system without ratification from the National Assembly could possibly shake the roots of democracy in the country.”

On the same day, China’s Global Times published an article headlined, “THAAD can be used to ‘impeach’ Park.”

Since Seoul and Washington announced their decision to set up the Thaad system in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang, on July 8, Beijing has bristled at the move and warned of economic and diplomatic retaliation against Seoul.

According to Bloomberg, China may be considering levying economic sanctions against South Korea to pressure the government to not deploy the Thaad system, a measure that would include a suspension on imports and investments in South Korea.

As part of this, China may exclude some South Korean battery makers from its list of electric vehicle battery suppliers, Bloomberg reports. According to its sources, Samsung SDI and LG Chem are not included in China’s list of suppliers.

The acquisition deal of ING Life Insurance Korea was also delayed, and it may be because some Chinese companies interested in taking over the Korean company are reconsidering their offers, Bloomberg’s sources noted.

China may also be seeking further sanctions in the entertainment and tourism businesses on Korea.

With the abrupt cancellation of plans to have Korean celebrities star in jointly produced dramas, Beijing has oft been quoted in the media as being determined to hurt Korea’s entertainment business, though it has never officially exercised explicit trade retaliations.

BY ESTHER CHUNG, LEE KI-JUN [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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