South Korea's Lotte Group to resume $3.5 billion China project after Thaad missile row

Lotte Group plans to build a shopping mall, hotel, office block and apartments as part of the project in Shenyang.
Lotte Group plans to build a shopping mall, hotel, office block and apartments as part of the project in Shenyang.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - Lotte Group said on Thursday (May 2) it would resume work on a US$2.6 billion (S$3.5 billion) real estate project in China this month, after work was halted following the South Korean firm's decision in 2017 to offer land in South Korea for a US anti-missile system.

The South Korean real estate giant has invested about 3 trillion won (S$3.5 billion) in the project in China's Shenyang where it plans to build a shopping mall, hotel, office block and apartments. The complex had been due for completion this year.

The Chinese authorities halted the project and other Lotte retail activities over fire safety inspections. But company officials privately linked the action to an economic spat between Seoul and Beijing sparked by the US missile row.

"The local government in Shenyang gave us an approval in mid-April to resume our leisure complex project and we will resume construction in mid-May," a Lotte spokesman told Reuters.

The project faced obstacles after South Korea's fifth-largest conglomerate agreed to provide land to deploy US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) missile system in February 2017.

South Korea and the United States say Thaad is a deterrent to nuclear-armed North Korea, but Beijing said the system's radar could probe deep into its territory, undermining its security. Seoul and Beijing have since worked on mending ties.

 

"It is a good thing that we get to resume our project in Shenyang after more than two years of waiting. We hope such a positive signal can spur other business areas like tourism in the future," another Lotte spokesman said.

China banned group tours to South Korea in March 2017 after Seoul agreed to install Thaad.