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Asia Minute: Missile Defense, Baseball and Corporations

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

It remains to be seen what impact Donald Trump’s plans to expand military spending may have on Hawai‘i. But elsewhere in the Pacific, military cooperation between allies is leading to an unusual situation with a global company. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.


This story begins with a U.S. missile defense system that’s being put into place in South Korea.

It’s called “THAAD”—for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense.

China doesn’t like it because the Beijing government says the system’s powerful radar can penetrate Chinese territory.

The United States and South Korea want to use the THAAD system for missile defense against North Korea, and have been negotiating for years about how exactly it would be deployed on the Korean peninsula.

This is where a sprawling South Korean corporate giant enters the picture.

The Lotte Group runs operations from food to retail to hotels ,chemicals, entertainment.  The company even owns a baseball team in Japan’s professional league.  It’s South Korea’s fifth largest conglomerate—with extensive business in China.

Lotte also owns a golf course south of Seoul that U.S. and South Korean military officials said would work as a base for the THAAD system.

This week, the company’s board agreed to sell the land to the military, and China has warned there will be consequences.

The state-run Xinhua news agency wrote in a commentary earlier this week that “the Chinese people will not support a company complicit in damaging China’s interests.”  Adding that “one misjudged step could have severe consequences.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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