19 May, 2017
China has been infuriated by the USA deployment of an advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea, saying it was a threat to its security and would do nothing to ease tension with North Korea.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said China was ready to work with South Korea to get bilateral ties back on track, Xinhua news agency reported Friday.
"China highly regards relations with South Korea as does South Korea", Xi was quoted as saying.
The installation of the Thaad has resulted in an unofficial boycott of South Korean companies operating in China, including the supermarket chain Lotte, which had provided land in South Korea for the deployment.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who officially assumed office on May 10, has repeatedly criticized the previous government under impeached leader Park Geun-hye for agreeing to host the THAAD system without seeking parliamentary approval. China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with South Korea's special envoy Lee Hae-chan (unseen) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, Wednesday, May 19, 2017.
Lee earlier said Moon had sent him to China to keep communications open "at a critical time".
THAAD is aimed at guarding against threats from nuclear-armed North Korea, but China fears it will upset the regional security balance. China is North Korea's biggest economic partner and source of diplomatic support and has come under heavy pressure to use its influence to rein in the North's missile and nuclear activities.
The North has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the programme is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Lee that Seoul must "remove the obstacles that have been placed on the road to good relations between our two countries". "Seoul needs to make a choice between deploying THAAD and resuming Sino-South Korean relations".