South Korea's top economic policymaker said Wednesday that the government will make economic and diplomatic efforts to soothe the tensions stemming from China's apparent retaliation against Seoul's plan to deploy a US-led missile defense system.
"We are keeping close tabs on what is going on in China," Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho said in an economy-related ministers meeting in Seoul. "The government will strengthen economic and diplomatic efforts to minimize damage that our businesses and people are suffering from."
South Korea's Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho (center) speaks at an economy-related ministers meeting in Seoul on March 8, 2017. (Yonhap)
Tensions are building up between South Korea and China as Seoul has sped up plans to station the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense on its soil. Beijing has strongly objected to the decision, saying the high-tech radar will be used to spy on its military and hurt its national interests.
China has taken a series of provocative actions against Korean cultural products and businesses for months. Recently, Beijing told its major travel agencies to stop selling tour packages heading to Korea, while reports showed that some retail shops in China run by South Korean retail giant Lotte were put under business suspension by local authorities.
"We will continue to monitor the impact of trade issues on the financial market," Yoo said. "If necessary, the government will take swift and firm action, including market stabilizing measures."
With the first elements of the THAAD system, including two launchers, having arrived in South Korea on Tuesday, China's retaliatory actions against Korean businesses are expected to get more conspicuous.
The South Korean government said it will consider appealing to international legal procedures as China's actions may violate the agreement of the World Trade Organization and the Seoul-Beijing free trade pact. (Yonhap)