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Park bashes opposition over THAAD visit to China

By Korea Herald

Published : Aug. 8, 2016 - 16:27

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President Park Geun-hye on Monday blasted a group of opposition lawmakers who left for China in an apparent effort to fight the government’s plan to deploy an advanced U.S. antimissile system in South Korea.

She also dismissed Chinese media criticism, reiterating that the disputed armament was indispensable in the face of North Korea’s increasing nuclear and missile provocations.

“It is in times like this that we, ruling or opposition alike, should unite as one and trust the government,” Park said at a meeting with senior presidential secretaries.

“When it comes to national security, even those who oppose the government should cooperate regardless of their partisan interests so as to reduce internal discord and to fulfill their political duties to the people.”
President Park Geun-hye speaks at a meeting with senior secretaries on Monday. (Yonhap) President Park Geun-hye speaks at a meeting with senior secretaries on Monday. (Yonhap)
The president thereby referred directly to the six first-termers of The Minjoo Party of Korea who flew to Beijing on Monday for a three-day visit, despite criticism not only from Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling conservative Saenuri Party, but also from within their own party leadership.

The group, led by China expert Rep. Kim Young-ho, pledged to meet with Chinese officials and scholars to discuss Seoul and Washington’s joint plan to install a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery in the southern part of the peninsula by year 2017.

The Minjoo Party’s leadership has not confirmed its official stance on the issue but its ranking members, including interim chief Rep. Kim Chong-in, have been expressing dissent over the visit.

Kim noted that the group of Minjoo lawmakers, by conveying their opposition to the government’s decision, will encourage the Chinese media to continue its objections.

The latest remarks by Park and her team showed Cheong Wa Dae displaying a change in its disposition, taking on a more aggressive tone from the previous week.

“By saying that they should reach out to China and take the matter in their own hands, (the Minjoo lawmakers) show that they have no understanding of the diplomatic efforts the government has made so far,” the president said.

Her remarks echoed the address made by her senior secretary for public affairs over the weekend.

“No matter what their true intention is, their visit will eventually reinforce China’s stance and intensify our internal divide,” senior presidential press secretary Kim Sung-woo told reporters Sunday.

Presidential spokesperson Jung Youn-kuk said last Thursday: “The Foreign Ministry will make the due measures, if necessary,” concerning the rising level of criticism over THAAD by some of China’s state-affiliated newspapers.

The president also reconfirmed her will to push ahead with the THAAD deployment by any means.

“Every day, I face fierce protests, but I am ready to take blame at any level if only to protect the people who have chosen me as their president,” Park said.

“I ask that the political circles, too, cooperate in safeguarding the nation and the people.”

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)