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Vice Minister of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television Zhang Hongsen attends a news conference during the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, October 20, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter


BEIJING (Reuters) - Cultural exchanges between countries need to consider the "temperature" of popular opinion and how people feel about each other, a senior Chinese official said on Friday, amid a freeze in cultural ties with South Korea over an anti-missile system.

China has been angered by Seoul's decision to deploy the U.S.-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, saying that its powerful radar harms China's own national security and will do nothing to lessen tensions with North Korea, which THAAD is supposed to defend against.

Popular South Korean soap operas have been pulled from streaming sites, K-Pop singers have had concerts cancelled and there has been a dramatic drop in Chinese tourists to South Korea.

China has not officially linked the moves to the THAAD tensions, but has said relations need to have a "basis in popular opinion".

Asked about the prospects for cultural exchanges with South Korea amid the THAAD dispute, deputy media regulator Zhang Hongsen said cultural exchanges were not an "ordinary exchange of goods".

"Cultural exchanges relate to where the popular will inclines and to emotional choices," he said, speaking on the sidelines of a Communist Party Congress.

"So what we say is that culture exchanges are an exchange of temperatures, and this temperature comes from popular feeling and emotion," added Zhang, who is a Vice Minister of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

"When popular sentiments and emotions align, cultural exchanges and cooperation can certainly develop in a positive direction," he said, without elaborating.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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