China Ladies Open Loses Title Sponsor Hyundai Amid Escalating Diplomatic Row
South Korean automaker Hyundai will not sponsor the China Ladies Open this year, officials in Seoul said Tuesday, amid an "escalating diplomatic row" over the deployment of an "advanced" U.S. missile defense system in South Korea, according to YONHAP. A Hyundai exec said that the automaker's Chinese unit, Beijing Hyundai Motor Co. -- a joint venture between Hyundai Motor and BAIC Motor Corp. established in '02 -- will not be the title sponsor for the CLO, which is part of the China Ladies Professional Golfers' Association Tour. The CLO has been called the Hyundai China Ladies Open since '10. The national championship of China "has been also one of the popular tournaments for South Koreans." Hyundai said that it will "pull out from the Chinese event because its title sponsorship deal has expired, emphasizing it has nothing to do with issues surrounding the THAAD missile defense system." But the local golf community "suspects that the automaker's decision is related to the situations in China." A Korean LPGA official said, "(Hyundai) didn't tell us why it's not going to sponsor the event. We just think Hyundai's declining sales in China have something to do with this problem" (YONHAP, 9/12).