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China suspends operation of Lotte Mart again in 4 days

Posted May. 27, 2017 07:08,   

Updated May. 27, 2017 07:25


China has suspended the operation of Lotte Mart again on Tuesday two days after the delegation returned home. The Chinese government allowed the operation of its three stores on last Friday when the Korean delegation visited China. Such move is deemed to show the intent of China that it will not mitigate its retaliation without resolving the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) issue.

Many in the business sector and Lotte said on Friday the suspension order of the Chinese government for three stores of Lotte Mart was released on May 18 but suddenly ordered to shut down the operation again in four days. It is said that the local government has changed its stance due to the pressure of the central government.

Former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan met with Chinese President Xi Jinping as the Special Envoy of Korean President Moon Jae-in on May 19 when the suspension on the business of Lotte Mart was first released. At the same time, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with South Korean Special Envoy Hong Seok-hyun and said, “(China) appears to be weakening its sanctions on Lotte.”

Lotte also appears to sense the unchanged stance on the retaliation against the deployment of THAAD by the Chinese government with the reverse of its decision after holding a hope with signal of a thaw on the freeze in bilateral relations due to THAAD. “People said China was displeased to the thinking that every issue relating to the retaliation against THAAD is resolved as a new government is established in Korea,” a business insider said.

Tourism and culture industries of Korea are having high expectations on the mitigation of retaliation against THAAD by the Chinese government as the Chinese president sent a congratulatory message right after Mr. Moon was elected on May 10, made a phone call with President Moon Jae-in on May 11, met with Korean delegation leader during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on May 14, and met with Special China Envoy on May 19. Amore Pacific and other companies began to engage in marketing promotions as a mood of reconciliation between the two countries is developing. There is also a heightened expectation that Korean wave stars will start to resume their activities and relating stock prices are on the rise again.

“It is a good to see that the Korea and China start to talk each other but we are watching it carefully as they still have different views on the deployment of THAAD,” said a person engaged in the duty-free industry.

Lee Sae Saem iamsam@donga.com