BEIJING Feb 28 Chinese state media has reacted
with anger and threats of boycotts after the board of an
affiliate of South Korea's Lotte Group approved a land swap with
the government that will enable authorities to deploy a U.S.
missile defence system.
The government decided last year to deploy the U.S. Terminal
High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, in response to the
North Korean missile threat, on land that is part of a golf
course owned by Lotte in the Seongju region, southeast of Seoul.
The board of unlisted Lotte International Co Ltd approved
the deal with the government on Monday.
China objects to the deployment in South Korea of the THAAD,
which has a powerful radar capable of penetrating Chinese
territory, with Beijing saying it is a threat to its security
and will do nothing to ease tension with North Korea.
Influential state-run Chinese tabloid the Global Times said
in an editorial on Tuesday that Lotte should be shown the door
"We also propose that Chinese society should coordinate
voluntarily in expanding restrictions on South Korean cultural
goods and entertainment exports to China, and block them when
necessary," it said in its English-language edition.
The paper's Chinese version said South Korean cars and
cellphones should be targeted as well.
"There are loads of substitutes for South Korean cars and
cellphones," it said.
The WeChat account of the overseas edition of the ruling
Communist Party's official People's Daily said late on Monday
that cutting diplomatic ties should also be considered.
"If THAAD is really deployed in South Korea, then
China-South Korea relations will face the possibility of getting
ready to cut off diplomatic relations," it said.
The official Xinhua news agency also said in a commentary
late on Monday that China "did not welcome this kind of Lotte".
"Chinese consumers can absolutely say no to this kind of
company and their goods based on considerations of 'national
security'," it said.
South Korea's defence ministry said on Tuesday it had signed
a land swap deal with Lotte on the golf course in exchange for
providing military property. A South Korean military official
told Reuters the military would begin installing fences and
soldiers would patrol the area.
The Lotte Group said on Feb. 8 Chinese authorities had
stopped construction at a multi-billion dollar real estate
project in China after a fire inspection, adding to concern in
South Korea about damage to commercial relations with the
world's second-largest economy.
Asked if South Korea had demanded the Chinese government
suspend any economic retaliation, South Korean Defence Ministry
spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said: "We have continuously persuaded
China so far and will keep continuing efforts to do so."
South Korean government officials have said THAAD is a
defensive measure against North Korean threats and does not
target any other country.
South Korea's central bank said this month the number of
Chinese tourists visiting the tourist island of Jeju had fallen
6.7 percent over the Lunar New Year holiday from last year,
partly because of China's "anti-South Korea measures due to the
THAAD deployment decision".
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Ju-min
Park in SEOUL; Editing by Paul Tait)