What is THAAD defence system? Discuss why China is opposing THAAD defence systems in South Korea?
THAAD is an acronym for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, a transportable, ground-based missile defense system.
THAAD is coupled with space-based and ground-based surveillance stations, which transfer data about the incoming missile and informs the THAAD interceptor missile of the threat type classification.
THAAD is alarmed about incoming missiles by space-based satellites with infrared sensors.
This anti-ballistic missile defense system has been designed and manufactured by the US company Lockheed Martin.
South Korea is not the only country with the THAAD missile defense system. It has been previously deployed in the UAE, Guam, Israel and Romania.
China has issued a statement reiterating its long-standing objections to the presence of the US THAAD missile defence system in South Korea.
Its opposition came after the reports of an overnight operation to bring in new, replacement interceptor missiles to the US base in South Korea.
China has been objecting to the defence system since it was first deployed in South Korea three year ago, causing a deterioration in ties between the two countries.
In South Korea, the THAAD missile defense system is operated by the US army stationed in the country.
The US had previously announced that the deployment of this missile defense system was a countermeasure against potential attacks by North Korea, particularly after the country had engaged in testing ballistic missiles.
In 2017, matters escalated in the Korean Peninsula after North Korea test fired a few missiles in the direction of US bases in Japan.
These moves by the US and by extension, South Korea, particularly angered China.
China’s opposition has little to do with the missiles itself and is more about the system’s inbuilt advanced radar systems that could track China’s actions.
The controversy also has much to do with the geo-politics and complex conflicts in East Asia, with the US having a presence in the region particularly through its many military bases in Japan and South Korea.
According to some observers of East Asia, China believes the US exerts influence over South Korea and Japan and may interfere with Beijing’s long-term military, diplomatic and economic interests in the region.