The sad part of the impeachment of President Park is that she was not able to suspend, if not end, her pre-election personal life, when she was elected as President. Now, life has to go on.
I have been looking for an article that best summarizes why China is so opposed to the deployment of THAAD in South Korea. I finally found one in "Explaining Thaad, and Why It So Bothers China" by David Tweed in the March 7 version of www.bloomberg.com.
Before I introduce the good summary by Tweed, I have to clarify my view on the issue. I have long advocated in this column self-defenseof South Korea without relying on external forces or politics. South Korea has been rich enough and is blessed enough with quality human resources to do exactly that. We all know that South Korea never even tried to develop forces to defend itself against threats from mad Kim Jong-un. To me, at least, South Korean politicians appear to work only to destroy their internal political opponents, but never to outsmart external enemies. We now have Plan B, which is to try to destroy North Korean missiles with nuclear bombs before they land somewhere in South Korea. THAAD is a weapon of Plan B. Again, South Korean politicians appear opposed to the deployment of THAAD, not because they are not needed, but because they are supported by their political opponents.
Let us now turn to explanation by Mr. Tweed.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) is developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. of the U.S. "to destroy short-and-medium-ranged ballistic missiles at high altitudes in their ‘terminal' phase, as they descend."THAAD missiles are different from conventional defense missiles in that the latter are designed to get close to a target and self-detonate to damage or deflect the threat. THAAD missiles rely on "infra-red seeker technology to locate and hit the target head on."
Some question whether THAAD will work in mountainous Korean landscape. My guess is that military personnel would not deploy them if they believe that THAAD missiles would not work.
It is important to note that THAAD missiles do not carry warheads, meaning that they are purely defensive weapons.Besides, THAAD in South Korea cannot even shoot down Chinese missiles that are flying to the U.S. mainland, because THAAD missiles are designed to hit descending missiles, not ascending missiles. If they cannot threaten China or Chinese missiles targeting the U.S. mainland, why are Chinese leaders so worried about them? Chinese leaders are incredibly small-minded and short-sighted.
Consider that China could easily have assisted South Korea in its efforts to unify the two Koreas. This would have made the unified Korea one of most friendly nations to China, and Chinese leaders did not have to worry about the U.S.-Japan-Korea alliance. They did not do it. What do they expect South Korea to do? Just surrender to North Korea so that China can exploit all the resources South Korea hasas it does those of North Korea now?
There is another reason why I say that Chinese leaders have brains just as small as those of Korean politicians. They are banning imports from South Korea, cancelling trips to South Korea, and shut down Lotte shops in China. Do they not know that Korean businesses have nothing to do with the national security decision of deploying THAAD in South Korea? Further, the negative impact of trade restrictions will run both ways. I am not even sure which between China and South Korea will lose more from trade ban by China.
If Chinese leaders believe that Chinese women will happily and easily give up world-famous Korean cosmetics, they are mistaken. They are really mistaken if Chinese people will happily give up world-class Samsung electronic products. One way or another, they will buy them. I never expected such small brains from leaders of such large and culturally-rich country as China.
What about leaders of Korean politics? I do not believe they are any better than Chinese leaders.
As I stated earlier in this article, deploying THAAD is not my Plan A of Korea's national defense. We already lost the opportunity for Plan A. THAAD deployment is my Plan B. I am yet to hear convincing arguments from opponents of THAAD as to how South Korea will fight back escalating threats from the North withall their nuclear weapons? What will you do to counter the threat from the North?
What about people in South Korea? I have one advise. The harder Chinese leaders try to punish South Korea economically over THAAD issue, the harder people in South Korea should try to be nice to Chinese people. Welcome them if they come and sell them whatever they want. Remember that all the bad decisions are made, not by Chinese people, but by Chinese leaders. Being extra nice to Chinese people at times like this will pay off handsomely in the near future.
Chang Se-moon is the director of the Gulf Coast Center for Impact Studies. Write to him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.