US, S. Korea to pay price for deploying Thaad, says China

BEIJING • The United States and South Korea are destined to "pay the price" for their decision to deploy an advanced missile defence system which will inevitably prompt a "counter attack", China's top newspaper said yesterday.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been high this year, beginning with North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January, which was followed by a satellite launch, a string of various missile tests, and its fifth and largest nuclear test last month.

Meanwhile, South Korean President Park Geun Hye has called on North Koreans to abandon their country and defect, just a day after a soldier walked across the heavily fortified border into the South.

"We will keep the road open for you to find hope and live a new life. Please come to the bosom of freedom in the South whenever you want," Ms Park said yesterday in a speech marking Armed Forces Day.

In July, Seoul agreed with Washington to deploy the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) anti-missile system to protect against any threats from Pyongyang.

South Korea aims to deploy the system on a golf course, a Defence Ministry official said on Friday.

But the plan has angered China, which worries that Thaad's powerful radar would compromise its security while doing nothing to lower temperatures on the Korean peninsula.

In a commentary, the ruling Communist Party's official newspaper the People's Daily said China's opposition to Thaad would never change as it was a serious threat to the regional strategic security balance.

"Like any other country, China can neither be vague nor indifferent on security matters that affect its core interests," said the commentary, published under the pen name "Zhong Sheng", meaning "Voice of China", often used to give views on foreign policy.

The US and South Korea have to wake up to the fact that the Korean peninsula is no place to take risks, it added.

"If the US and South Korea harm the strategic security interests of countries in the region, including China, then they are destined to pay the price for this and receive a proper counter attack," the paper added, without elaborating.

China has repeatedly promised to take specific steps to respond since the Thaad decision was announced, but has given no details about what it may do.

The US and South Korea have said Thaad does not threaten China's security or target any country other than North Korea.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 02, 2016, with the headline 'US, S. Korea to pay price for deploying Thaad, says China'. Print Edition | Subscribe