S.Korea mulls filing complaint over China's boycott

Indo Asian News Service

Seoul, March 7 (IANS) South Korea is considering filing a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against China for boycotting its products and companies over the decision to deploy an anti-missile defence system in Seoul.

The installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) began on Tuesday after Seoul had accepted Washington's proposal to deploy it on its territory last year to combat a growing security threat from North Korea, Efe news reported.

"With regard to the issue of filing a complaint with the WTO, (the government and the party) agreed to actively weigh the option," Lee Hyun-jae, the policy chief of the ruling Liberty Korea Party, said Tuesday.

"(We) also agreed to strengthen government efforts to minimize the damage on local industries," he added.

Last week, several Chinese travel agenciessuspended the sale of tourist packages to South Korea.

Beijing also banned South Korean airline carriers from operating charter flights in the country.

The Lotte Group, which approved a land swap deal with the South Korean government to facilitate the installation of the Thaad, has been one of the main targets of the boycott.

The company's website was reportedly hacked, and several of its stores in China have been closed for alleged violation of local regulations.

China also did not screen a single South Korean movie in 2016, while K-pop bands have disappeared from Chinese television since summer of last year, and their concerts have been postponed.

South Korea considers these measures reprisals by Beijing to oppose the deployment of the Thaad in the Korean peninsula.

Seoul claims the missile system is a defence mechanism to protect itself from possible missile launches from North Korea but China fears the powerful Thaad radars could be used to obtain intelligence data from its military bases.

Lee also said China "needs to make efforts to restrict Pyongyang's nuclear program", adding that if that is done, "there is no need for Thaad".

He added South Korea will work to forge a "constructive future" with China.

--IANS

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