A senior U.S. military official says an advanced U.S. missile defense system that is to be deployed in South Korea only targets North Korea, not China.

Vice Adm. James D. Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system will never be used against China.

Yonhap news agency quoted him as saying Thursday that "We don't defend against China as a threat."

China has grown increasingly angry over the plan to deploy the missile system, which critics say is capable of tracking missiles inside China.

Chinese state media have published daily attacks against the U.S. and South Korea, and China has reportedly canceled events involving South Korean entertainers.

Syring spoke in a group interview with South Korean media, including Yonhap.