Vietnam seeks South Korean support in South China Sea
21 March, 2017, 12:14 | Author: Alberta Rodriguez
South Korea has approached the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in connection with measures imposed by China over the deployment of a U.S. missile defence system, Seoul's trade ministry said Monday.
South Korea and the United States say the sole goal of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is to guard against missile launches from North Korea, but China says that its powerful radar could penetrate into its territory. "Only trade that complies with WTO rules can be considered fair trade", China commerce ministry spokesman Sun Jiwen said on 9 March. The first step would be to formally "request consultations" with China.
Seoul on Friday raised the possibility that Beijing is violating WTO rules with its actions against South Korea's tourism and retail sectors, Kang Myung-soo, director-general of the trade ministry's trade cooperation bureau, said by text message. The ministry confirmed that the government accused Beijing of breaching the MFN and national treatment regulations, more as to bring worldwide spotlight to Chinese action as it won't be easy to file legal charges against China. The Korean government still needs to collect evidence to officially sue China, but the Trade Ministry said the recent action will at least be able to pressure Beijing.
Critics in South Korea are voicing concern over the apparent lack of countermeasures and complaints from government officials in the face of a series of retaliatory acts from Beijing, including the closing down of more than 63 Lotte Mart stores in China.
Vietnam's Prime Minister sought support for the nation's stance in the South China Sea when he met South Korea's foreign minister in Hanoi on Monday.
Chinese authorities have also closed almost two dozen retail stores of South Korea's Lotte Group, citing safety concerns. As a result, China has ended group tours to South Korea, which has already seen a sharp decline in Chinese tourists in its shopping districts.
The South Korean government has offered cheap loans and extended deadlines on existing debt to help businesses that have been affected and has pushed to diversify trade markets.
Speaking to reporters at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting, Yu said, "The Chinese retaliation against South Korea is palpable, but without a legal entity behind the action, no measure can be taken on a national level".
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