The US and South Korea announced today that they have agreed to install a high-tec weapons defence system called the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) to the Korean peninsula. The US and South Korea began talks on deploying this system in February, after North Korea launched a long-range rocket following a fourth nuclear test in January. North Korea has carried out several missile launches, also.
China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday the THAAD system would destabilise the security balance in the region without achieving anything to end North Korea's nuclear program. The deployment of a US missile defence system in South Korea would "seriously damage" regional security in northeast Asia, China said Friday, adding it strongly opposed the move.
"China strongly urges the United States and South Korea to stop the deployment process of the THAAD anti-missile system, not take any steps to complicate the regional situation and do nothing to harm China's strategic security interests," it said in a statement on its website.
The deployment of the THAAD system announced by the US and South Korea would "seriously damage the strategic security interests of countries in the region including China",and that the system would not aid the "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," Beijings foreign ministry said in a statement posted online.
China is North Koreas largest trading partner and has been its key diplomatic protector for decades. But relations have soured over Pyongyang's nuclear tests and long-range missile launches, with Beijing supporting UN sanctions. Still, analysts say it is concerned over any build up of US power on its doorstep, and values Pyongyang as a strategic bulwark.
Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the importance of "friendly relations" to a visiting North Korean official last month, even after the envoy reportedly told Chinese officials Pyongyang would continue with its internationally condemned nuclear programme.
Russia also warned Friday that the US deployment of an advanced missile defence system in South Korea would have "irreparable consequences", echoing warnings by China of a threat to regional security.
"This missile defence system tends to undermine stability in the region...We hope that our partners will avoid any actions that could have irreparable consequences," the Russian foreign ministry said after the US and South Korea announced they would deploy the system to thwart potential attacks from North Korea.
China is positioning itself as the dominant county in the region, claiming that the bulk of the South China Sea falls under its control.