China snubs security dialogue in Seoul over Thaad issue

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China snubs security dialogue in Seoul over Thaad issue


Participants at the Seoul Defense Dialogue 2016, including Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-an, pose for a photo on Thursday at the opening ceremony of the annual event at the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul. [NEWSIS]

BEIJING - China is shunning a security dialogue in Seoul amid an ongoing row over South Korea’s decision to deploy a powerful U.S. missile defense system.

The state-run newspaper Global Times on Thursday quoted an unidentified Defense Ministry spokesman as saying China was not sending a delegation to this week’s Seoul Defense Dialogue because of “reasons of work arrangement.” It offered no other details.

China has angrily denounced plans for the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad system, whose radars it says will allow the U.S. military to peer deep into northeastern China. Seoul and Washington say the system is intended solely to defend against North Korea’s missile threat.

China elevated the issue on Monday, with President Xi Jinping expressing China’s opposition directly in a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye. Xi said that “mishandling the issue is not conducive to strategic stability in the region, and could intensify disputes.”

Beijing’s reaction has also stoked public outrage, threatening everything from tourism exchanges to appearances by K-pop stars in China.

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