China demanded Seoul remove the U.S. missile defense system THAAD on Wednesday, after the U.S. military moved missiles and road-mobile launchers to a designated site in central South Korea overnight.
Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang condemned THAAD deployment during a regular press briefing and said the move “destroys the regional strategic balance and further prompts tensions on the Korean peninsula,” South Korean television network SBS reported.
THAAD undermines the national security interests of China, the spokesman said.
“Cancel the deployment of THAAD. Otherwise China will decisively take necessary measures,” Geng said.
China’s state-owned television network CCTV aired footage of South Korean protesters at the THAAD site, highlighting how the deployment is an unpopular measure among the activists.
The media also focused on progressive South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in and his criticisms of the deployment, which presumably took place overnight to attract the least amount of attention from the public.
The ultimatum from China comes at a time when state-owned carrier Air China has resumed selling flights to North Korea, CNN reported Tuesday.
Air China had announced it was no longer operating a route between Beijing and Pyongyang on April 14, but travel has resumed with two flights a week, from May 5 through Oct. 27.
Chinese authorities also banned the import of 83 South Korean cosmetic and skin care products, South Korean news service News 1 reported.
The ban affects about 18 percent of all cosmetics of South Korean origin, according to the report.
A South Korean cosmetics industry representative told News 1 the ban appears to be intentional and linked to the THAAD decision.
By Elizabeth Shim