As South Korea determines to host a highly controversial anti-missile system and joins the United States in a largest-ever ongoing military exercises, elements of insecurity on the Korean Peninsula and the wider region are being further stacked up.
Kicked off on Wednesday, the two-month-long annual war games are reportedly mobilizing U.S. troops and strategic assets at an unprecedented level, and are put under simulated conditions of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) deployment.
Contrary to their claim that the maneuvers were intended to stabilize the situation, Seoul and Washington are exposing the region to greater danger.
Responding to the provoking war games, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the designated target of the THAAD system, has threatened to take "the toughest counteractions."
Again, violence incites violence and saber rattling only adds to uncertainty and insecurity. As has been proved many times through the previous joint drills, flexing muscles can never solve the problem, but complicate and exacerbate it.
South Korea's deliberate and reckless moves also irritate its neighbors whose strategic security interests have been severely undermined. Although Seoul and Washington argue that the range of a THAAD battery is "very limited," its radar is in fact physically capable of observing deep within the territory of regional countries including China and Russia.
In response, China has vowed to take necessary measures to safeguard its security interests, and Russia is ready to work with China to intensify their coordinated opposition to the deployment.
"It is like being stabbed by your friends," a former senior Chinese diplomat said.
Negative sentiment is already spreading among ordinary Chinese people. Many have voluntarily initiated a boycott of South Korean products, especially those from Lotte group after it approved a land swap to station the THAAD system. That could deal a big blow to South Korea's exports.
Protests within South Korea are also unignorable. As the THAAD's X-band radar emits super microwaves detrimental to the human body and environment, riled local residents even have launched a lawsuit against the country's Defense Ministry.
South Korea is placing itself in a position adverse to its own interest. It has to bear all the consequences in the region from its reckless actions as the United States is thousands of kilometers away.
China has repeatedly called for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a return to negotiations between Pyongyang and world powers.
Arms races are definitely no solution, and efforts to seek peace with the DPRK should not be abandoned.
South Korea should refrain from going too far down the wrong path. It should reverse its course before it gets too late.