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Door open to defense dialogue with ROK, gov't says

Updated: 2016-11-08 07:24
By Zhang Zhihao (China Daily)

China is willing to hold defense-related dialogue and develop cooperation with the Republic of Korea on the basis of mutually respecting each other's security interests, the Ministry of Defense said on Monday.

The comments came following this year's disruption of high-level China-ROK defense talks as a result of the ROK's decision to deploy the US' Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system.

The dialogue, held between officials at the vice-defense-minister level, was put on hold, according to Yonhap News Agency.

In addition, ROK Defense Minister Han Min-koo's visits to China were also placed in doubt, Yonhap reported.

The defense-strategic dialogue, first established in 2011, was designed to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation and increase mutual trust between the two countries, said Piao Jianyi, a researcher of Korean Peninsula studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Last year, the dialogue was rendered unnecessary and canceled because Han and his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan had already spoken at a different meeting.

Door open to defense dialogue with ROK, gov't says

Military relations between China and the ROK soured after Seoul agreed to host THAAD emplacements in July in response to what it called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear threats.

This infuriated Beijing and Moscow because the system's radar will have a radius of 2,000 kilometers and cover parts of China and Russia, thus undermining their national interests and destabilizing the balance of power in Northeast Asia.

The ministry said China clearly and strongly opposed the deployment of THAAD, and its stance has not changed.

China hopes the ROK will cherish the existing fruits of their military relations, carefully handle China-related security issues in the interest of the people and regional stability, and create the conditions in which China-ROK military relations can successfully develop.

Piao said the ministry's response is to simultaneously assert pressure on Seoul and still keep communication channels open.

"There is so much chaos in Seoul's political system right now that the fate of THAAD is really unclear," he said. "China can wait and see if there are any changes in Seoul's defense policy. In the meantime, any chance to talk things out is always welcomed."

Piao said "it will be a shame" if this year's dialogue is canceled because of THAAD.


(China Daily 11/08/2016 page3)

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