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20 March 2017, 10:42 | Darnell Patrick
South Korea accuses China of trade retaliation in response to US missile defense
South Korea has complained to the World Trade Organization about China's moves against the country's companies, which are apparently in retaliation against Seoul's decision to deploy a USA anti-missile system on the Korean Peninsula, trade ministry said Monday.
Since South Korea chose to allow the United States to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea, China has been taking various unofficial retaliatory measures.
The trade ministry asked China to "comply with its obligations" and raised the issue of possible violation of WTO rules with the Geneva-based organisation, minister Joo Hyung-Hwan told Seoul lawmakers. He did not give further details. China is the South's largest trading partner and a major consumer of South Korean electronic gadgets, cosmetics and cultural products including popular TV dramas.
China's apparent yet still ongoing retaliatory measures against Korean companies in China over Seoul's decision to deploy THAAD, ... has prompted the Korean government to take a more active approach to better warn Koreans in China against possible unsafe situations.
While the action is largely symbolic-Kang said it was not a legal step to seeking dispute settlement, but aimed at sharing the issue among "multilateral parties"-it could put some pressure on China, which has recently advocated strongly for the WTO's role in keeping free trade humming along".
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South Korea and the United States say the objective of the THAAD system is to guard against missile launches from North Korea but China has been infuriated by its deployment, saying that its powerful radar could penetrate into its territory. "But everyone knows this needs a corresponding basis in public opinion".
Chinese authorities have also closed almost two dozen retail stores of South Korea's Lotte Group amid the diplomatic standoff.
Despite its concerns about the radar, Beijing also says THAAD will do nothing to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula.
In response to the news that economic retaliation is being ordered by the Chinese government last Friday, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Yu Il-ho explained, "Though there is a strong suspicion that the government engaged in retaliatory action against South Korea, we don't have evidence".
Efforts to hold direct discussions between the finance ministers of China and South Korea at a Group of 20 meeting in Germany at the weekend fell through after Beijing declined Seoul's request to meet, citing scheduling reasons.
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