China says it’s conducting military drills in response to THAAD

April 27 (UPI) — China said it is planning a counter-THAAD exercise with “new weapons” as South Korea confirmed the U.S. missile defense system was operational.

Beijing’s defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said Thursday during a monthly press briefing the deployment adversely affects the regional balance of power, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

“The current situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and China has been making constructive efforts for peaceful stability in the region and for dialogue,” Yang said. “The deployment of THAAD in South Korea would harm the efforts and the strategic balance of the region.”

Yang added the “Chinese military will continue to carry out exercises, and through training that uses new weapons, defend national security and regional stability.”

On Thursday, Seoul’s defense ministry confirmed THAAD was operational, a day after missile defense parts were relocated to its designated site in Seongju, central South Korea, local television network JTBC reported.

The report confirms a statement from Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, who told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday THAAD will be operational “in the coming days.”

Harris also said although North Korea is a “reckless regime,” the goal is to “bring Kim Jong Un to his senses, not to his knees,” NPR reported.

The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, subordinate to the U.S. Eighth Army stationed in South Korea, operates the system.

There is concern in South Korea and the United States that China may launch new ways to retaliate against the joint decision to deploy THAAD.

John Hultquist, a cyber espionage analyst at U.S. firm FireEye, told CNN Chinese hackers attempted to breach the systems of an organization connected to THAAD.

“China uses cyber espionage pretty regularly when Chinese interests are at stake to better understand facts on the ground,” Hultquist said.

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