The first pieces of the US-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system arrived in South Korea earlier this month, the latest step a deployment process the Chinese government had greeted with chagrin.
Beijing has inveighed against the deployment and criticized the South Korean government for undermining bilateral relations by hosting the missile system.
Chinese citizens, among whom a sense of nationalism is strong, have also taken up the anti-THAAD mantle, protesting and boycotting South Korean businesses and tourism.
Several Chinese state-run media outlets have called for organized voluntary boycotts of South Korean businesses and imports. China is Seoul’s largest trading partner, receiving one-quarter of South Korea’s exports.
Those public protests have fallen heavily on one company: South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group.
Lotte agreed in early March to turn over a golf course to the South Korean government to host the THAAD missile system.
In the days after, the company said 23 Lotte Mart stores in China were shut down by authorities there, who claimed the outlets were in violation of fire-safety regulations.
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Featured image courtesy of the Missile Defense Agency
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