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China slams base in ROK for destroyer

By Mo Jingxi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-08 13:36

Proposal would place an advanced US warship at doorstep, Chinese expert says

Beijing voiced its firm opposition on Tuesday to the possible deployment of the United States' most advanced warship to waters off the Korean Peninsula, a move seen by analysts as Washington's latest efforts to contain China.

On Monday, the Republic of Korea said that Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, had proposed that the destroyer USS Zumwalt be stationed at Jeju island or Jinhae, which are home to ROK naval bases near the southern tip of the peninsula, the Korea Herald reported.

The naval base on Jeju is one of the large-scale foreign bases nearest China, meaning it could monitor Chinese activity in the Yellow or Bohai seas.

"If the US officially makes a suggestion, we will conduct a review," ROK Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said at a news briefing.

China slams base in ROK for destroyer

Moon said the proposal came in response to a request by ROK lawmakers during a meeting last month in Hawaii.

"We've noticed related reports," Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Tuesday. "We will pay close attention to the interaction between any other countries, if it impacts regional peace, security and stability."

He noted that such military cooperation should aim to maintain regional peace and stability, instead of aggravating tensions.

"If the interaction affects China's security interests, of course, we are firmly opposed to it," he said.

Lu also reiterated China's opposition to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in the ROK, after ROK Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reaffirmed on Tuesday the deployment of the system by the end of 2017.

"Our firm position does not change, and will not change in the future," he said.

Li Jie, a senior naval expert in Beijing, said the United States is sending a clear signal of deterrence but also provocation by deploying its newest and most advanced weapons in Northeast Asia.

"It is still trying to emphasize 'America first' in this region," he said. "However, this will severely affect China's maritime safety as well as regional peace."

Zhao Xiaozhuo, director of the Center on China-US Defense Relations at the PLA Academy of Military Science, said stationing the warship in the ROK would pose a direct threat to China, given the short distance between China and the proposed bases.

"This will help the US Navy increase its emergency response capability in Northeast Asia," he said,

Zuo Xiying, a researcher at the National Academy of Development and Strategy at Renmin University of China, said the move would boost US military support for the ROK, as it has promised.

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