SEJONG, South Korea Jan 6 China is suspected to
be taking indirect action against South Korea's decision last
year to deploy a U.S. anti-missile system, South Korea's finance
China worries that the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area
Defence (THAAD) system's powerful radar can penetrate its
territory and it has objected to the deployment.
South Korea and the United States say the missile system is
aimed solely at countering any threat from North Korea. It is
due to be deployed this year.
"China is officially denying it, but we feel their actions
are linked and that there have been indirect responses taken,"
Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho told a news conference on Thursday at
the ministry's headquarters in Sejong City, south of Seoul.
"It's hard to ask them what they're up to when they have
been denying it officially."
Yoo did not elaborate on what he meant by "indirect action"
but China recently rejected applications by South Korean
carriers to add charter flights between the two countries.
Yoo said on Sunday the government was looking into whether
China's decision to deny the airlines' applications, which came
ahead of a traditional surge in Lunar New Year travel, was
related to the deployment of the anti-missile system.
Chinese authorities have not responded to requests for
comment on the rejection of the flight applications.
Yoo also said South Korea planned to make efforts to reduce
its trade surplus with the United States in response to an
assertion by President-elect Donald Trump that the United States
had been hurt by what he considers an unfair trade agreement
with South Korea.
Another finance ministry official told Reuters separately
the government could look into importing more U.S. raw materials
and machinery parts as part of the effort to reduce the surplus.
(Reporting by Shin-hyung Lee; Writing by Christine Kim; Editing
by Robert Birsel)