South Korea has filed an appeal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against China's alleged boycott of goods and services in response to Seoul's deployment of an American anti-missile system, a top official confirmed on Monday.
The Seoul government appealed to the WTO service council on March 17 to determine if Chinese measures on South Korea's retail and tourism industries violate the organisation's regulations, said Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan during a parliamentary session.
The appeal does not constitute a legal complaint with the WTO, as it remains to be proved whether China imposed such measures, Efe news reported.
However, according to Seoul, Beijing has breached two main WTO clauses, one which refers to equal treatment to all trading partners of a country and the other which advocates non-discrimination of local and imported goods.
Joo hinted at the possibility that China may not admit it is taking retaliatory measures against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) anti-missile system but that authorities are gathering evidence and will also look into the unfair treatment of South Korean companies in China.
His statement came at a time when China has doubled pressure on South Korean products following the announcement on February 7 about the deployment of the US-made Thaad system on South Korean territory.
The South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group was forced to shut down 90 per cent of its supermarkets in China, after it provided land for the installation of the Thaad on February 28.
According to China, the radars installed with Thaad whose objective is to shoot down North Korean missiles, can be used to spy on its military bases and has protested against it since July 2016, when Seoul and Washington agreed on the deployment.
The boycott has spread to the cosmetic industry as products were rejected in large quantities by the customs office.
Furthermore, audio-visual products with performances by South Korean singers are no longer available online in China and Beijing has stopped selling tour packages to South Korea.