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Lotte's bitter harvest

China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-01 07:45

Lotte's bitter harvest

People gather to protest the land swap contract between the military and Lotte Group in Seoul, South Korea, Feb 27, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

Lotte Group, the biggest operator of department stores and duty-free shops in the Republic of Korea, agreed to provide land to the government for the deployment of the United States' Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system on Monday, a move that undermines the security interests of other countries in the region, including China.

If the ROK's deployment of THAAD is stabbing China in the back, then Lotte's decision is tantamount to the company being the jackal to the tiger. It is thus natural that Chinese consumers will now be less willing to patronize the company; Lotte's duty-free stores, which depend heavily on Chinese tourists to the ROK, will surely pay a price.

China-ROK relations have advanced well in recent years, bringing enormous benefits to enterprises in both countries. Lotte has been one of the biggest beneficiaries. By the end of 2015, there were business outlets affiliated to Lotte in 24 provinces across China and Chinese shoppers accounted for 70 percent of the sales revenue of Lotte's duty-free shops.

However, since July last year, when Seoul and Washington agreed to deploy a THAAD battery in the ROK, ties between China and the ROK have suffered. It is predicted that with the ROK now about to put THAAD in position, the previous smooth cooperation between China and the ROK will suffer an even bigger blow. Given its direct involvement, Lotte will have to harvest the bitter fruit it has planted.

Some may argue that as a ROK enterprise Lotte should not be denounced for its cooperation with the ROK government on national security. However, Beijing has repeatedly reiterated its willingness to work together with Seoul to address their common security concerns, a suggestion that has fallen on deaf ears.

No country will tolerate a company benefiting from it while at the same time the company is compromising the nation's security.

--Xinhua News Agency

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