Beijing, China. While Russia has recently had a taste of the new US administration’s idea of diplomacy by force, China has taken serious financial action to make sure American deployment of missile system in it’s orbit are costly to the point of pain for the US and its regional allies.
This week North Korea and trade are set to take center stage at President Trump’s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, there’s another issue waiting in the wings: Chinese retaliation over THAAD, the US missile system being deployed in South Korea.
China vehemently opposes the THAAD missile system, which can detect and shoot down incoming missiles, calling it a threat to its own national security. China’s concern is that THAAD’s powerful radar system can track the movement of Chinese military hardware deep inside China.
The US and South Korea insist the missiles are only aimed at protecting against a potential North Korean attack on South Korea, where nearly 30,000 American service members are stationed. Already this year, Kim Jong Un has ordered four missile tests, including one this week. China counters it does not have missile systems in Canada or Mexico and finds the US arguements ludicrous, given American intervention worldwide.
Recently China’s political efforts to halt the US deployment of a THAAD system in South Korea have failed. But as South Korea’s biggest trading partner, China has significant economic leverage over Seoul and Beijing is using this weapon with devestating success on South Koreans involving themselves in US sponsored intervention in regional affairs.
To start China has banned tour groups from visiting South Korea on March 15, leading to a 39 percent decline in Chinese tourism there last month compared to February. This move is destroying a key part of South Korea’s tourist economy.
But this was nothing compared to the hit one business has taken.The Lotte company, which operates Walmart-style retail stores across the region, supplied the land for the THAAD missile installations in South Korea. Since the deployment began last month, Chinese regulators have temporarily closed 75 Lotte stores in China, citing inspection failures.
Lotte stands to lose $179 million if its China-based stores can’t reopen by May, according to a South Korean government official. In the missile showdon with America and it’s lap dog South Korean partners, China has avoided military confrontation, wisely using an ancient Asian strategy to kill its enemies without ever touching them.