SEOUL Feb 8 South Korea's Lotte Group said
Chinese authorities have halted construction at a multi-billion
dollar real estate project in the northeastern city of Shenyang
after a fire inspection.
South Korean media have described a string of inspections at
Lotte's Chinese ventures as retaliation over the government's
decision to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defence
(THAAD) system on land that is currently part of a golf course
owned by Lotte.
Since December, Chinese authorities have conducted fire
inspections, facility inspections or tax investigations at most
of Lotte's business locations in China including some 120 retail
stores, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told
The source was not authorised to discuss the matter with
media and declined to be identified.
THAAD's powerful radar is capable of penetrating Chinese
territory, and Beijing has said THAAD threatens China's own
security and will do nothing to ease tension on the Korean
Worried that Beijing is punishing it over the THAAD plans,
South Korea said last month it will look to improve
communication and cooperation with China to resolve difficulties
faced by South Korean companies there.
China's foreign ministry did not immediately reply to a
request for comment on Wednesday.
Lotte said construction was halted in December and that it
was working to address a matter that needed to be remedied,
adding that there had been no major disruptions so far as little
construction takes place during the winter.
Lotte Group spokesman Song No-hyun declined to comment on
media reports about the motives of Chinese authorities.
The proposed land swap deal with the South Korean government
for the THAAD site, located in the Seongju region, roughly 200
kilometres from Seoul, still needs to be approved by a board of
a Lotte Trading Co unit.
Lotte's Shenyang project, which covers 1.45 million square
meters of land, includes a department store and movie theatre
that are already open. It plans to construct residential
facilities and a theme park.
($1 = 1,141.9900 won)
(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard
in Beijing; Editing by Tony Munroe and Edwina Gibbs)