South Korea Wednesday dismissed China's warning that the planned deployment of a US missile defense system could damage ties, stressing that it was to counter "growing threats" from North Korea.
"The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) is a measure of self-defense against growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea," presidential spokesman Jeong Yeon-Guk said.
Jeong said the issue would be "decided in accordance with security and national interests," adding that "China will have to recognize the point."
The remarks came after Chinese ambassador Qiu Guohong Tuesday warned that installation of the THAAD system on the Korean Peninsula could "destroy" relations between Beijing and Seoul.
China has repeatedly protested since Washington and Seoul announced plans to deploy the m
A passenger walks past a TV screen broadcasting a news report on North Korea's long range rocket launch at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, February 7, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
But Tuesday was the first time that a Chinese diplomat or official has warned of the effect on diplomatic ties with Seoul.
South Korea's foreign ministry said it was taking "necessary measures" about Qiu's comments without elaborating further.
"Before raising an issue about the THAAD deployment, it will be reasonable to consider the root of the problem," the ministry said.
The THAAD system fires anti-ballistic missiles to smash into enemy missiles either inside or outside the Earth's atmosphere during their final flight phase.
The interceptor missiles carry no warheads, instead relying on kinetic energy to destroy their targets.
The allies announced their intention to begin talks on its deployment following Pyongyang's long-range rocket launch on February 7, which was seen by the US and its allies as a covert ballistic missile test.
South Korea's defense ministry said it expects official talks on THAAD to begin next week.
Moon Sang-Gyun, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, speaks during a press briefing on North Korea's rocket launch, at the Defense Ministry in Seoul. AFP/YONHAP