President Moon’s trip to China began with him receiving a cold shoulder from the Chinese:
The early part of President Moon Jae-in’s state visit to China this week was marred by Beijing’s mistreatment of the Korean leader, who is making his first visit to the country since taking office in May.
Upon arrival in Beijing, President Moon was greeted by Kong Xuanyou, Chinese assistant minister of foreign affairs and special representative on Korean Peninsula affairs.
During a state visit last year by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, China sent Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the airport to greet him. Considering such a precedence, Beijing should have sent a higher official than one of its foreign ministry’s assistant ministers to greet the Korean head of state.
Aside from the inappropriate airport greeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping was out of town on the day of Moon’s arrival. Xi was in China’s eastern city of Nanjing to preside over a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the 1937 Nanking Massacre by Japanese troops. Korean Ambassador to China Noh Young-min attended the event at the order of the President rather than greet him at the airport. The President reportedly told him it is more important for an ambassador to take part in a meaningful event in the host country. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and other key figures in Chinese government were also absent from Beijing as they were also taking part in the Nanjing ceremony.
Cheong Wa Dae dismissed the media reports of Moon getting mistreated by China, but one cannot help getting the impression so far that China is not very enthusiastic about Moon’s visit. [Korea Times]
Then there was the beatdown of a South Korean journalist by Chinese security that marred a business event that President Moon attended. Then the Chinese refused to issue a joint statement about the lingering THAAD issue:
Calling the media reports “narrow-minded,” the state-run outlet reported on China’s stance over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.
“The issue has become the biggest obstacle to the Bejing-Seoul relationship. The two governments partly reached an agreement on how to solve the problem, but some differences remain unsolved. The fact that the two sides will not issue a joint statement is a reflection of the differences.”
Lee Chang-ju, researcher for the Korea Logistics Forum, said the provocative editorial mirrors lingering domestic concerns in China. The Huanqiu Shibao has been outspoken in defending China’s national interest.
“If the two countries had issued a joint statement focusing on economic cooperation without mentioning THAAD, South Korea would have viewed it as a full-fledged solution to the THAAD, which China cannot accept,” Lee said [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link, but it is pretty clear that the Chinese government is going to continue to politically use THAAD as a wedge issue to separate the ROK from the United States. The Chinese feel that that the US is trying to recreate the old USSR containment strategy against them and thus are taking actions to counter this. They have made inroads within the Philippines at countering US influence there and are doing the something with the ROK using the phony THAAD dispute.