South Korea, THAAD, and the China Problem

Will South Korea deploy THAAD – and if so, how will China respond?

By Phillip Shrank – May 30, 2016

Photo at right, courtesy of US Missile Defense Agency

The Diplomat has posted an article on the missile defense system being discussed for installation in South Korea. It is one of the many answers to North Korean aggressiveness and seemingly intractable advances in the nuclear community.

“… the United States and South Korea see THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) deployment as an apparatus securing peace and keeping South Korean democracy strong. China (and Russia) see it as a threat to the current balance of power. In essence, the problem we see simmering in East Asia is similar to the problem currently boiling in Eastern Europe.”

There are fine lines between projecting power and kicking a hornets nest. Shrank concludes that cooler heads will prevail, but all agree there are limits to how far any one player should go at the crossroads of multiple international military giants.