Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, in talks with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min Koo on Wednesday, voiced concern over a possible deployment of an advanced missile defense system in South Korea by the United States.
"The Chinese side expressed concerns about the deployment of the THAAD in the Korean Peninsula," an unidentified South Korean Defense Ministry official said, according to Yonhap News Agency.
The United States is considering whether to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea to counter the North Korean ballistic military threat and has conducted site surveys to determine where to place the system.
The THAAD is a land-based system that can shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles inside and just outside the atmosphere.
In response to the concern expressed by Chang, "Minister Han explained the U.S. has not yet decided on the matter and there has not been any request from the U.S. and thus no consultations between South Korea and the U.S. are under way," Yonhap said.
THAAD's first operational deployment was in 2013 when a battery was deployed to Guam in what U.S. defense officials said was in response to North Korean provocations.
Russia has joined China in objecting to the system's possible deployment in South Korea, but the United States has brushed aside their concerns, saying they are not strategic anti-ballistic missiles but are instead designed to address regional threats against U.S. allies and against U.S. territory.
The possible deployment of the system in South Korea, which would ease pressure on Seoul to develop a national missile defense system, has triggered concerns here that it would turn the country into a U.S. frontline missile defense base, causing diplomatic friction with Beijing and forcing Seoul to bear the brunt of intensified China-U.S. rivalry.
At Wednesday's talks, the two defense ministers also agreed to establish a hotline connecting the two countries' defense ministries, according to South Korean side.
They also took up South Korea's plan to send back 68 remains of Chinese soldiers who had died while fighting on the North Korean side during the 1950-1953 Korean War next month. Last year, South Korea sent to China 437 sets of remains of Chinese soldiers under a mutual agreement.
The two ministers also agreed on the need to strengthen defense cooperation in the field of peacekeeping operations and fighting against piracy at sea.
Chang arrived in South Korea on Tuesday for a three-day visit. He is the first Chinese defense minister to visit South Korea in nine years.