Protests mount in China against South Korea's missile system |

Protests mount in China against South Korea's missile system

March 03, 2017 01:59 AM

BEIJING (AP) — Beijing's escalating condemnation of South Korea over a U.S. anti-missile system has triggered protests against a popular retail giant and a reported ban on Chinese tour groups visiting the country, apparent signs that Beijing plans to make Seoul pay an economic price over a move than China says threatens its security.

Protests in the last few days have sprung up against Lotte Mart, a South Korean hypermarket chain that sells food, clothing, toys and electronics. Its parent company, Lotte Group, agreed Monday to provide a golf course to the government to site the anti-missile system. The protests follow weeks of condemnation of the South Korean government and warnings against Lotte's move by government officials and state media.

South Korea's state-run tourism agency said Friday that travel agents in China said they had been told to stop selling trips to South Korea.

China says the system threatens its security because its radars are capable of peering deep into the country's north and parts of Russia, allowing Washington and Seoul to monitor flights and missile launches. South Korea says it is needed to defend against North Korea's missile threat and not targeted at any other regional states.

China is South Korea's largest trading partner and a key source of inbound tourism, leaving it vulnerable to an extent to Chinese economic disruptions.

China National Tourism Administration did not immediately respond to faxed questions.

However, the administration did put out a warning to the public Friday that said the number of cases of Chinese citizens being stopped when trying to enter the South Korean island of Jeju had risen sharply, and many "had to wait a long time to be repatriated."

It didn't say why they had been stopped although it warned its citizens to make sure they have the necessary documents.


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