China frets over US missile defense efforts against North Korea

China is steadfastly opposed to the deployment of advanced U.S. anti-missile radars in South Korea because it does not know whether the defenses, intended for North Korean missiles, are capable of tracking and countering Beijing's own nuclear program, experts say.

Beijing's resistance to the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile system put up south of Seoul has become a major thorn in bilateral ties with the United States and is bound to be discussed at this week's summit meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump. (For a graphic on THAAD missile defense system click

While the United States says THAAD is needed to protect Seoul from the threat posed by North Korea's growing nuclear and missile programs, some Chinese strategists believe it is also a threat to the viability of China's nuclear deterrent.

"It is clear that there is no one in China who really knows the technical capability of THAAD and that's part of the problem," said Zhang Baohui, a Hong Kong-based mainland expert on China's nuclear deterrent.

"THAAD's full capabilities are secret so there is a real knowledge gap among Chinese strategists. If they are misplaced, they are at least genuine in their concern - they have to assume a worst case scenario."
The simplest way for China to address these concerns is to stop North Korea's paranoid fantasy about a nuclear attack on the US and South Korea.  China could and should cut off North Korea compeletely.  If it moved against the Norks, there would be no need for the defensive system China worries about.


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