Korea appeals China's possible violations to WTO: trade minister

Pauline Gross
March 20, 2017

South Korea has complained to the World Trade Organization about Chinese retaliation against South Korean companies over the deployment of a US anti-missile defence system in the South, the trade minister said on Monday.

China has relentlessly protested that the THAAD deployment would undermine its security interest in the region despite Seoul and Washington's assurances that the deployment is only meant to guard against North Korea's ballistic missile threats.

Trade minister Joo Hyung-hwan raised the issue with the WTO's Council for Trade in Services, asking China to comply with its obligations, Kang said.

When asked what would happen next, Joo said the ministry would strengthen communications with Beijing and take action if needed. The first step would be to formally "request consultations" with China. He did not give further details.

According to China, the radars installed with Thaad whose objective is to shoot down North Korean missiles, can be used to spy on its military bases and has protested against it since July 2016, when Seoul and Washington agreed on the deployment.

Unexpected raids for health and safety checks at South Korean business establishments, including Lotte Mart stores, which saw many branches shut down, and giving orders to travel agencies to cut the number of visitors to the country are just a couple of examples of Chinese retaliation.

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"The South Korea-Vietnam relationship has been the most exemplary of South Korea's foreign ties since the end of the Cold War", Yun said in the opening speech of the talks. "But everyone knows this needs a corresponding basis in public opinion".

THAAD is aimed at deterring missile launches from North Korea, according to the officials from South Korea and the US.

Some South Korean lawmakers ramped up criticism of what they say has been the government's lack of an aggressive response to China's actions, which they claim also include a freeze on South Korean television dramas, as well as music and product boycotts. "We are collecting evidence and will also deal with issues that South Korean companies are treated unfairly in China", the minister stressed.

Seoul's options, however, look limited.

"Last year, Vietnam emerged as South Korea's fourth-biggest trading partner, with bilateral trade volume surpassing US$4.5 million", the South Korean foreign minster also said, adding that "The countries will find no major difficulties in bringing their trade volume to $7 million by 2020".

Other reports by GizPress

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