Scholar: South Korea gets more losses than gains from THAAD

China Military
Zhang Tao

BEIJING, Mar. 8 (ChinaMil) --China has repeatedly expressed its strong opposition to the Republic of Korea (ROK)'s agreement to deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system.

The Chinese government and the public have taken a series of countermeasures, which is absolutely necessary because the deployment of THAAD will largely enhance the ROK's capability of detecting air and military situation in China's hinterland.

It's true that the deployment of THAAD is a matter between the ROK and the US, but while ROK has the right to ask for America's defense aid, it has no right to aid the US in harming China's security interests. That will not only affect the military balance on the Korean Peninsula, but will also undermine the security balance in northeast Asia and the world at large.

There is a kind of strategic balance among the major countries in the world, even if it's not completely symmetrical.

Imbalance in international security landscape will lead to conflicts and even war, and then a new round of balance. For example, the new China had no nuclear weapon when it was first founded, but the US conducted nuclear blackmail against China over and over and even threatened to use nuclear weapons several times in the 1950s, forcing China to develop its own nuclear weapons in order to form a strategic balance between the two countries.

There is no doubt that China's development of nuclear weapons isn't aimed to initiate threat against the US or any other country, but to deter possible nuclear attacks against itself. As expected, after China successfully trial-exploded a nuclear weapon for the first time in 1964, the US never made a public nuclear threat against China again, although it never gave up the plan to launch a nuclear attack against China either.

Therefore, with a limited amount of nuclear weapons, China successfully formed a strategic balance with the US to some extent. Even if its nuclear weapons are far inferior to America's both in quality and quantity, the possession of them is enough to force the US government to take a more pragmatic stance.

Although the U.S. has long challenged and is still challenging China's core interests, it is very cautious about any step that may cause nuclear conflicts between the two sides because China is capable of strategic retaliation that the U.S. cannot afford to take.

But by deploying the THAAD system in ROK, the U.S. can extend the land-based strategic reconnaissance against China and Russia to their doorstep.

In peacetime, the ROK can help the U.S. to push forward the close-in reconnaissance of China by thousands of kilometers; during crisis, once China launches strategic counterattack in the event of nuclear attack against it, the radar system in THAAD can detect military intelligence half a globe earlier, which will give America's homeland missile defense system on the other side of the Pacific Ocean an extra ten to twenty minutes for strategic early warning.

The ten to twenty minutes will seriously undermine the validity of China's strategic deterrence and consequently undermine the strategic balance in northeast Asia and around the world. To be frank, grave conflict between China and the US is still possible, not because China seeks hegemony, but because the U.S. insists on damaging China's fundamental rights and interests.

The U.S. is continuing and even fortifying the interference in matters concerning China's core interests and its national unity and sovereign integrity, such as China's sovereignty over Taiwan and the Diaoyu Islands. This happened with the Obama administration and the newly elected Trump administration.

While the U.S. government is giving wrong messages repeatedly, China must wake it up from any illusion in order to wake up the Taiwan authority and Japanese government. By maintaining a powerful and effective retaliatory strategic deterrence, China is injecting the White House with the best strategic sobering dose.

ROK's construction of anti-missile system in response to the DPRK's nuclear missile development is understandable, the problem is that it has to take the right and appropriate countermove.

The DPRK's threat to ROK mainly comes from its powerful artillery and short-range missiles, which the THAAD system cannot deal with. But if the super-long-range reconnaissance capability of the X-band radar in THAAD system is connected with America's regional and global military system, it will give the U.S. the confidence in "freedom of action" both technologically and ideologically. That's the key problem.

If a super power takes the initiative to launch nuclear attack and is able to prevent revenge, the world will become out of balance, and the super power will be bolder in doing whatever it wants. In an age without balance and check, like in the beginning of this century, the U.S. already did whatever it wanted in Iraq.

As two super powers in the world, China and the U.S. have established a comprehensive and deep cooperative relationship in a wide range of areas, covering economy, trade and people-to-people exchange, but they still have structural strategic conflict, especially on the Taiwan question.

Taiwan is an integral part of China. This is acknowledged by not only the United Nations but also more than 170 countries around the world including the US. But the US refuses to follow the international law on this matter.

On the 100th day after the normalization of China-U.S. relations, the American congress passed a bill that "any threat to Taiwan automatically constitutes a threat to the United States", and vowed that the American government and congress would work together to legislate for defending Taiwan.

It's known to all that the Chinese mainland and Taiwan are not unified yet, the current leader of Taiwan hasn't accepted the statement of "One China" principle in the 1992 Consensus, and some "Taiwan independence" forces are still eager to make trouble.

The Chinese government promulgated the Anti-Secession Law long ago that specified several scenarios under which the Chinese mainland will take non-peaceful actions against "Taiwan independence".

Therefore, when it comes to the future of Taiwan, neither China nor the US excludes the possibility of conflicts, and serious conflicts already took place across the Taiwan Strait in the mid-1990s.

As long as there are still forces for "Taiwan independence", as long as they continue to refuse the "One China" principle, armed conflicts across the Strait is possible, China and the US may have grave conflicts according to their respective laws, and there may be consequences neither side wishes to see.

Therefore, maintaining the strategic balance between China and the US, even if an asymmetrical balance, remains the cornerstone for the security in Asia Pacific and the world in general.

China doesn't seek hegemony, but any action it takes to preserve its sovereignty is totally reasonable. To do that with success, China cannot rely on sincerity and diplomacy alone, but needs to foster powerful and defensive deterrence, whose only purpose is preventing any violation of China's sovereignty.

When the new China was founded, it successfully established limited but effective deterrence despite extreme economic difficulties. Today, Chinese people have sounded the clarion of the "Chinese Dream" and China is the second largest economy in the world.

In face of ROK's stubborn insistence on joining with the US against China by deploying the THAAD system, the Chinese society, including the government and the public, is united and determined to take necessary countermeasures.

China should take concrete steps to tell the ROK and the US that it is resolved and capable of keeping China's strategic deterrence effective.

The defensive deterrence can only be strengthened, not weakened. Any foreign country's attempt to harm China's legitimate security will not only threaten China, but also damage regional and global stability and go counter to the efforts for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

China will resolutely fight against such attempt. The ROK will in no way benefit from the THAAD. It will suffer tremendous losses for it.

Written by Shen Dingli, professor at Fudan University


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