80 pct of Lotte outlets on China suspended over THAAD spat
SEOUL, March 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Lotte Group said Sunday 80 percent of its hypermarket chains operating in China have been forced to shut down temporarily, adding to woes that Beijing's reprisal against Seoul over the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system is intensifying.
The number of Lotte Mart stores facing business suspension stood at 79 as of Sunday, according to Lotte. That accounts for 80 percent of 99 stores it is currently running in Asia's largest economy.
The additional suspension on Lotte's hypermarkets is seen as Beijing's firm determination to hamper Korean businesses based in China as an act of retaliation against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) led by Seoul and Washington.
During his trip to Seoul last Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on China to refrain from retaliating against South Korea over THAAD, saying that it is "inappropriate" and "troubling."
He also stressed that the missile shield is for defensive purposes, not targeting anything other than missiles coming from the North.
China lashed out at Seoul for pushing ahead with the installation of the anti-missile battery through its state media channels, warning that it will undermine regional security in East Asia.