China warned the U.S. and South Korea on Tuesday (March 7) after the United States started to deploy the first elements of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea.
The deployment came as North Korean state media said leader Kim Jong Un had personally supervised missile launches on Monday (March 6) by an army unit that is positioned to strike U.S. bases in Japan, stepping up threats against Washington as U.S. troops conduct joint military exercises with South Korea.
The move by the U.S. military is likely to deepen the brewing conflict between South Korea and China, which says the THAAD deployment destroys the regional security balance.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang repeated China’s resolute opposition to the THAAD deployment.
“The only thing I want to emphasise is that we resolutely oppose the deployment of THAAD in South Korea by the United States and South Korea, and will firmly take the steps necessary to protect our own security interests. The consequences of this are on the shoulders of the United States and South Korea. We again strongly urge the relevant sides to stop the deployment process and not keep going down the wrong path,” he told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing.
The four ballistic missiles fired by North Korea landed in the sea off Japan’s northwest, angering Seoul and Tokyo, days after Pyongyang promised retaliation over the military drills that it sees as preparation for war.
The Yonhap news agency said the THAAD deployment could be completed in one or two months.