Lotte Mart relaunches Chinese website after 2-month shutdown

Updated 2017-05-22 09:31:32 Global Times

The Chinese-language website of Lotte Mart, the retail business arm of South Korea's Lotte Group, has been relaunched after it was shut on March 1.

Experts said this is a positive signal that Lotte will be able to restart its business operations in China.

"The relaunch of Lotte Mart's website is a good sign of Lotte's recent progress in its China business, but any radical change will rely on how Lotte deals with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system problem," Lü Chao, an expert on Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Lotte's Chinese website now shows information about promotions, sales events and store locations. In the past two months, anyone clicking on the site would see a message that the website was "under maintenance."

South Korea's Embassy in China made a formal request to the Chinese government in late March that Lotte Mart be allowed to continue its business in the country, as the conglomerate's operations in China had suffered since the company approved a land swap deal with the South Korean military to install the THAAD system at the end of March.

Since the THAAD deployment, Chinese companies and the public had taken action to boycott Lotte.

Lotte Mart owns 99 stores in China, 87 of which were closed, representing more than 90 percent of the total. Of the closed stores, 20 were shut by Lotte itself and the rest were ordered to close for "fire control issues," news portal Securities Daily reported on March 22.

Lotte Group has lost at least 3 billion yuan (0 million) in the past two months, and needed to continue paying staff salaries and other expenses, adding up to some 56 million yuan each month, Yonhap News Agency reported.

South Korean's newly-elected President Moon Jae-in has said in the past that he was opposed to THAAD. Moon claims the U.S. lacks the legal procedure to approve the deployment, and the U.S. decision to hastily implement the system undermines South Korea's democracy.

Lee Hae-chan, South Korea's presidential envoy, who arrived in Beijing Thursday for a visit, said South Korea realizes that the deployment of the THAAD system has been undermining mutual trust and bilateral cooperation and "South Korea will seek a solution to properly deal with the issue."

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