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JH Ahn was an NK News contributor based in Seoul. He previously worked as an interpreter for United States Forces Korea.
Updated: July 14, 6 p.m. Korea time – The original Chinese editorial posted on Huanqiu was deleted sometime Thursday afternoon. But the story had already been reported on by other South Korean media outlets.
China’s state-run media on Thursday published an opinion piece calling for harsh economic sanctions on the South Korean county that was recently designated as the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system deployment site.
The editorial also warned possible changes might follow in China’s sanctions policy against North Korea, claiming the deployment alters regional stability.
“Prepare for sanctions on Seongju County, and aim at THAAD with missiles,” the title of opinion posted on Huanqiu read.
“We called on the Chinese authorities to proceed immediately with measures of sanctions against Seongju County, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. We hope from now on, all China should suspend contacts with Seongju County, the variety of goods produced by the county should also be unwelcome.”
The piece warned economic sanctions may expand to the whole Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, the largest in South Korea.
The media outlet even urged the People’s Liberation Army to aim their missiles at THAAD, warning “Seongju County will become the eye of storm in northeast Asian power game.”
As the news of the deployment to Seongju County was announced on Wednesday, over 5,000 villagers protested in Seongju, while its governor wrote a blood letter to protest the decision.
About 200 people later headed to Seoul to protest inside the South Korean Defense Ministry building, demanding a talk with the minister.
The Chinese media outlet clearly outlined that their rounds of harsh warnings were aimed at further intensifying the ongoing South Korean opposition from the villagers of Seongju County, hoping to prevent the system’s deployment.
But the county’s strong opposition to Seoul’s decision may end up playing a favorable role for South Korea’s future diplomatic interests.
“Seoul, by showing off strong opposition coming from Seongju County, can condescendingly tell Washington that the decision on THAAD deployment was made with a ‘severe level of sacrifice,’” Han Chung-hwen a South Korean political commentator told NK News.
“This strong South Korean opposition will also appeal to the Chinese public,” Han continued, adding the resistance could mitigate possible “anti-South Korean” sentiment that may arise in China.
Huanqiu’s editorial came a day after the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the county “will take all necessary measures to safeguard its interests.” The same outlet a few months ago posted an editorial hinting Beijing’s should increase missile defenses to counter THAAD.