A protester cheers after the Republic of Korea parliament’s vote to impeach President Park Geun-hye on Friday. Crowds gathered outside the National Assembly in Seoul to demand that Park step down. ROK President Park Geun-hye attends an emergency Cabinet meeting on Friday. [China Daily] 

The parliament’s vote on Friday to impeach Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye may bring more uncertainty to the Korean Peninsula and the already strained China-ROK ties, analysts said.

Park, the country’s first female president, was stripped of her power amid the country’s worst political scandal in a generation. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will assume leadership until the country’s Constitutional Court rules on whether Park must permanently step down. The court has six months to decide.

Chung Sye-kyun, the ROK National Assembly speaker, said the bill on Park’s impeachment was passed by a vote of 236 in favor and 56 opposed, with 9 invalid votes and abstentions.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news conference on Friday that Beijing upholds the principle of not interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs and hopes that the ROK can restore stability as soon as possible.

Lu spoke highly of Park’s efforts in pushing forward China-ROK relations after taking office in 2013. However, he stressed that it was during her time in office that the ROK decided to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system, which China firmly opposes since it could harm Beijing’s security interests.

Liu Jiangyong, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University, told China Daily that the chaotic political situation in the ROK could have adverse consequences for China-ROK ties as well as for the Korean Peninsula.

The China-ROK relationship is undergoing fluctuations caused by the deployment of THAAD, Liu said, adding that the situation might be worsened.

Liu said that Japan had taken advantage of the political situation in the ROK to swoop in to sign a military agreement that could harm China’s security interests and cause more uncertainties on the peninsula.

Last month, the ROK and Japan signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement in Seoul after four years of negotiations. According to the agreement, the two countries will share military information.

Liu also said the impeachment will delay a meeting of the leaders of China, Japan and the ROK.

They were expected to meet by the end of the year.

Zhang Liangui, an expert on Korean studies at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system will continue during the impeachment of Park because “nobody will stand up to say no” during the political chaos.

Source: China Daily

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