President Moon Receives Little Respect During Visit to China

President Moon’s trip to China began with him receiving a cold shoulder from the Chinese:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (2nd from R) gives remarks at the South Korea-China expanded summit talks in Beijing on Dec. 14, 2017. (Yonhap)

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.

China Reportedly Made Demand that South Korea Build Wall to Block THAAD Radar

This is officially the stupidest thing I have read all day:

China may have asked South Korea to build a wall to block a U.S. missile defense system from monitoring Chinese military movements.

The request from Beijing comes at a time when Seoul is preparing for a summit between President Moon Jae-in and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Munhwa Ilbo reported Thursday.

Multiple South Korean diplomatic sources are not sure how the request could be met, as the deployment of THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, was a joint decision with the United States.

“The Chinese side is demanding the installation of a barrier to block the THAAD radar, although this is not a decision to be made by [the South Korean] government,” the Munhwa’s sources said.

The South Korean newspaper’s sources also said the requests began as early as July, when China was engaged in unofficial sanctions against South Korean companies operating in the world’s second-largest economy.

On Wednesday Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-hwa in Beijing.  [UPI]

You can read more at the link, but first of all this journalist does not seem to understand what the THAAD radar is.  The THAAD’s AN/TPY-2 radar is not used to monitor military movements.  It is used to detect and track ballistic missiles.  Secondly if the South Korean’s built a wall in front of the radar then it would be useless for tracking North Korean ballistic missiles which defeats the point of having the THAAD there in the first place.

I wonder if the South Korean diplomats were able to keep a straight face or did they seriously consider this stupid idea?

South Korea Agrees to the “Three Nos” with China on THAAD Deployment

Here is how South Korea has ended its dispute with China about the deployment of the THAAD battery to Seongju:

The recent agreement to restore relations between South Korea and China was achieved by having South Korea assuage China’s security concerns through public pronouncement of the “three no’s” – no additional THAAD deployment, no participation in the US’s missile defense network and no establishment of a trilateral military alliance with the US and Japan. But since the situation is liable to change with conditions on the Korean Peninsula and the interests of the countries concerned, it’s hard to say how the government’s promise of the “three no’s” will play out.There’s not likely to be a push for additional THAAD deployments under the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in. For one, opposition to THAAD deployment is the prevailing view among the Moon administration’s base of supporters.

Furthermore, since THAAD is designed to intercept enemy missiles at the high altitude of 40 to 150 km, it cannot defend the Seoul region, which is close to the armistice line, and can therefore only be deployed in the southern part of the country. Since one THAAD unit is already deployed in this southern area, there would seem to be little reason to deploy another. But if North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile threat grows even more, South Korea could conceivably find itself under increasing pressure in a variety of ways to allow further deployment.Seoul’s declaration that it will not participate in the US missile defense network has been the government’s basic stance going all the way back to the Kim Dae-jung administration. This is in consideration of China, which suspects that the US wants to build a missile defense network in northeast Asia to neutralize China’s military.

In exchange, Seoul has announced that it will build what it calls “Korean Air and Missile Defense” through local development of M-SAM (medium-range surface-to-air missiles) and L-SAM (long-range surface-to-air missiles).But South Korea and the US are also hurrying to set up a system that would enable detection and tracking information of missiles launched by North Korea to be shared in real time to facilitate the effective interception of those missiles. This would mean linking South Korea and American missile defense by means of sharing information. Such steps would naturally cause South Korea to move toward participating in US missile defense, some argue.

There’s virtually no possibility of a trilateral military alliance forming between South Korea, the US and Japan. Given popular sentiment in South Korea, it’s hard to imagine a military alliance being signed with Japan.  [Hankyoreh]

You can read more at the link, but I always find it interesting how many in the ROK treat the Japanese as the enemy when it is China that economically and diplomatically punished them over the past year.  What makes it even worse is that the deployment of THAAD was to protect South Korea from a threat the Chinese helped to create in the first place.  You would think there would be mass anti-Chinese protests about this, but the best the ROK has done is a one man protest.  I guess everyone else in South Korea is to busy waiting in line to take their picture with a comfort woman statue.

China Decides to Move On from Dispute With South Korea Over THAAD Deployment

Via a reader tip, as many people expected the Chinese government has finally decided to move on from their dispute with South Korea over the THAAD deployment:

A diplomatic dispute between South Korea and China officially ended on Tuesday, following months of tense relations and economic retaliation triggered by the deployment of a controversial missile defense system.

In statements issued by both countries’ foreign ministries Tuesday, Seoul and Beijing said they recognized the “great importance” of the relationship between the two neighbors.”
Both sides agreed that strengthening exchanges and cooperation between Korea and China would create harmony of interests in both sides, and agreed to resume exchanges and cooperation in all areas as soon as possible,” the statement said.
Relations deteriorated after South Korea announced in July 2016 that it would deploy the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) defense system to defend against North Korean missile threats.  [CNN]
You can read more at the link, but the objections by the Chinese were always hypocritical and largely in my opinion an attempt to create a wedge issue between the ROK and the US.  Considering that President Moon went all in on the THAAD deployment there was no longer any reason to keep up their objections in the hope of creating a wedge issue in the alliance.  It is in China’s long term interest to separate the US from the ROK and this was an opportunity for them to create a wedge issue that ultimately failed.

USFK Says THAAD Battery Deployment Now Fully Complete

The deployment of THAAD to South Korea which the ROK government has called temporary has now been fully completed according to USFK:

This file photo, taken Sept. 12, 2017, shows a launcher of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system being positioned at a U.S. military base in Seongju, 300 kilometers south of Seoul. The U.S. Army, which transported four additional THAAD launchers to the base Sept. 7, has installed them there and is ready to operate them, along with two of the six THAAD launchers previously installed.

The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Sunday it has officially set up the unit charged with operating the advanced missile defense system deployed in the country.

A ceremony was held in the southeastern county of Seongju on Thursday to transfer the Delta Battery of the 11th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade in Fort Bliss, Texas, to the 35th ADA Brigade in South Korea, official sources said.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, which has missile launchers, command and control facilities and a powerful radar, was first deployed in April as part of the Global Response Force amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. At the time there were two interceptor launchers stationed in the rural county. Four more were added last month.

In September, South Korea announced that the deployment of a THAAD battery in the county had been completed in a “tentative” step to counter threats from North Korea. The battery has been operational, but the military unit and manpower operating it has not fully been in place.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

President Moon Calls THAAD Deployment In South Korea Temporary

Can someone please define what temporary means?  Is the North Korean missile threat to South Korea just going to magically go away sometime soon to where the THAAD system will no longer be needed?:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in defended the government’s decision to fully deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system here Friday, saying it was an inevitable decision to protect his people from evolving nuclear and missile provocations from North Korea.

The president, however, hinted at possible changes in the future, calling it only a temporary decision.

“While ignoring our government and the international community’s repeated demands and warnings, North Korea staged its sixth nuclear test following a series of ballistic missile launches. And due to these developments, our security situation has become more serious than ever,” the president said in a released statement.

“Therefore, the government reached a decision that it could no longer delay the temporary deployment of THAAD to prevent war on the Korean Peninsula and protect the lives and safety of its people,” he added.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: THAAD Roadblock

U.S. Army to deploy 4 more THAAD launchers on Sept. 7

This photo, taken on Sept. 6, 2017, shows farming machines that residents placed to block a road to a village near a U.S. base in Seongju, 296 km southeast of Seoul, where two launchers for an advanced U.S. missile defense system, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), are deployed. The residents’ move came amid reports that the U.S. military will deploy four additional THAAD missile interceptor launchers to the base at 2:00 a.m. the next day. (Yonhap)

Dozens Injured After Korean Protesters Removed to Allow Deployment of Additional THAAD Launchers

After all the months of drama in regards to this issue, the THAAD launchers are finally in:

U.S. military vehicle moves as South Korean police officers try to block residents and protesters who oppose to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, in Seongju, South Korea, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017.

I guess the next concern from USFK will be whether the road to the THAAD site will remain open or is this a one time police presence to open the road?  If so the helicopter resupplies to the site will have to continue:

Thousands of South Korean police were deployed near the THAAD site, which is in a remote southeastern area of the country, to clear the way for the U.S. convoy carrying the four additional launchers and other equipment on Thursday.

Scuffles broke out when hundreds of protesters tried to block the path to the former golf course that now houses THAAD. Local health and fire officials said dozens of people suffered mostly minor injuries.

The defense ministry said that, despite the protests, the THAAD deployment was completed.

Officials stressed it was a “tentative” measure resulting from the urgent threat posed by North Korea and a decision on maintaining THAAD will be made after a full environmental impact assessment is completed.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Protesters Gather to Block Expected Movement of Additional THAAD Launchers to Seongju

It looks like there could be chaos today in in Seongju as the US military tries to move the remaining launchers and equipment on to the THAAD site:

The U.S. military will deploy additional launchers for an advanced missile-defense system Thursday in a remote area of South Korea despite local protests, the defense ministry said.

Seoul said Monday that it had cleared the last administrative hurdle to installing four more launchers soon to complete the deployment of the anti-missile battery known as THAAD, aimed at countering the growing threat from the North.

The plan has met with regular protests in Seongju, the southeastern area where the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system is stationed.

Protesters gathered again Wednesday near the former golf course that is housing THAAD, saying they would try to try to block the entrance with cars and tractors.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: Aerial Resupply of THAAD Site Continues

Four more THAAD launchers all set for deployment

A military helicopter airlifts matrials toward a golf course in Seongju, 296 km southeast of Seoul, where two launchers for an advanced U.S. missile defense system, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), are deployed on Sept. 4, 2017. South Korea’s defense ministry announced that U.S. Forces Korea will soon install four more THAAD missile defense launchers at the site. (Yonhap)