Monday, July 11, 2016

China and THAAD Deployment

One thing with North Korea is, her current administration doesn’t care much about rest of the world’s opinion. Every now and then she will conduct a nuclear test or a missile test to shore up support domestically and to create tensions abroad. One of Pyongyang’s allies - probably the only ally left - is China. China played the good cop-bad cop game and every time North Korea did something which is not digestible to her arch-rival South Korea and US, China intervened as a responsible player to pacify things.

However, last time China moved a step ahead and tried to wean South Korea away from US orbit. This strategy is in fact interesting. If succeeded China would have got a neutral South Korea (I don’t think South Korea will fall to Chinese orbit anytime soon) but a difficult, but still manageable Pyongyang. Chinese might have assumed that they can placate North in some way. Timing is very important here, China badly need a couple of friends in East Asia and South East Asia. Probably taking this in to mind, Xi Jinping went to see his South Korean counterpart first before/along with going to North Korea.

The strategy fell apart when North Korea did some more military tests. There was a realization in South that China can’t guarantee her security or manage North in the way Seoul wanted. So they did what they were expected to do. Accelerate the talk with Americans to deploy Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD - Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin; Weight X Length X Diameter (900kg X 6.17m X 34cm); Operational Diameter: >200km) interceptors on their soil. As per Pentagon, this missile defence system is aimed solely at incoming North Korean missiles; not towards any others. But it won't take any hawk eye to understand that, once it deployed the range may fall well inside mainland Chinese territory. In other words, Chinese may have to develop new missiles to overcome new US pieces.

For China it looks like, Americans are on the periphery for a reason which they can't reasonably or logically oppose well. Probably from now onwards, the more North is trying to test missiles they more South will accelerate THAAD deployment. I think now Chinese are trying to strengthen the relations with north which for last two years where not well maintained.


Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia

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