BEIJING Feb 20 South Korea's Lotte Group will
face severe consequences if it allows the South Korean
government to deploy a U.S. anti-missile system on land that now
forms part of a golf course it owns, China's state-run Xinhua
news agency has warned.
The comments come soon after Lotte said this month that
Chinese authorities had halted work at a multi-billion-dollar
real estate project following a fire inspection, amid South
Korea's worries that Beijing is retaliating for its plans to
host the system.
China has repeatedly expressed opposition to South Korea's
planned deployment later this year of the U.S. Terminal High
Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, which Seoul and Washington
say is needed to defend against North Korea.
China worries the system's powerful radar can penetrate its
THAAD is a threat to regional security and stability, Xinhua
said in an English-language commentary, adding that Lotte was
"one decision away from becoming an accessory to the act".
If Lotte, South Korea's fifth-largest conglomerate, agrees
to the deal, the South Korean and the U.S. governments will
hasten the planned deployment, Xinhua said late Sunday
"By association, Lotte will hurt the Chinese people and the
consequences could be severe," it added. "The Chinese people
will not support a company complicit in damaging China's
Such commentaries are not government statements, but can be
read as a reflection of official thinking.
Lotte should defer or reject the deal, forcing the South
Korean government to review the feasibility of the deployment,
"One misjudged step could have severe consequences."
Beijing is widely believed in South Korea to be
discriminating against some of its companies and cancelling
performances by Korean artists without explanation.
China understands South Korea's need to protect its security
but Seoul still needs to respect Beijing's concerns about the
deployment of THAAD, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his
South Korean counterpart over the weekend.
North Korea's most recent test firing of a ballistic missile
on Feb. 12 drew condemnation from the United States, South Korea
and Japan, which urged an "even stronger" international response
to Pyongyang's violations of U.N. resolutions.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)