The Good, the THAAD, and the Ugly

China’s Campaign Against Deployment, and What to Do About It

At a protest against the South Korean government's decision to deploy THAAD, Seongju, South Korea, July 2016. Kim Hong-Ji / REUTERS

Since last July, China has been blocking a variety of South Korean goods and services from entering its market, in sectors from cosmetics and hardware to air travel and tourism. The cause of its actions appears to be Washington and Seoul’s decision that month to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to South Korea. The two allies argue that THAAD is designed to counter North Korean attacks, whereas Chinese officials paint the missile defense system as a tool whose radar could be used to snoop on China’s own arsenal of missiles, undermining the country’s nuclear deterrent.

Over the fall and winter, as South Korea descended into a political corruption scandal that eventually led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, Beijing stepped up its economic coercion, appearing to take advantage of the domestic uncertainty in Seoul in a bid to undermine its security cooperation with

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