China’s Xi says willing to put South Korea ties back on track

China has urged restraint, but as a result of the latest missile test, the Chinese are considering closing the Yalu River Bridge, which is responsible for more than half of North Korea’s trade with China, as a way to punish the regime in Pyongyang.

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 tensions with Pyongyang.

The Chinese leader voiced his hopes to put relations “back onto a normal track” after resolving the existing disputes.

“An armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula must be prevented no matter how great a cost must be paid”, he said, according to the presidential spokesman.

“This is the desire of our two peoples but also our governments”.

Chinese official media quoted Xi as saying China is committed to resolving any issues through dialogue and coordination.

Lee also said Chinese officials were anxious THAAD would open the way for increased USA military buildup on the peninsula and that they were concerned a larger network of US missile defense would be subsequently deployed. In his inaugural address, he promised to “negotiate sincerely” with the USA and China to resolve the issue.

South Korea has said it needs Thaad to defend itself from North Korea, but China considers its radars a threat to regional stability. “Seoul needs to make a choice between deploying THAAD and resuming Sino-South Korean relations”.

There are signs of possible strains between Washington and Seoul, after Trump said the South Koreans should pay for Thaad and warned he might scrap a trade deal. South Korean companies have claimed that Beijing took retaliatory measures against them, with the flow of tourists from China to South Korea dropping dramatically.

In addition, there has also been a decline in Chinese sales of South Korean vehicle manufacturers Hyundai and Kia, as well as other protests.

“From a year ago, the South Korea-China relationship suffered a setback which should not have happened, and this is an unwanted situation”, Wang said at the meeting.