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The U.S. worries that China is driving a wedge between its strongest Asian allies, South Korea and Japan, undermining America's capacity to offset China's rising military power.For North Korea – which already has to contend with South Korea's alliance with the U.S., including seemingly endless joint military exercises – the South's budding friendship with China, the North's longtime ally, probably seems even more threatening.None of this means that South Korea is abandoning the U.S. in favor of China.Even as China's leaders seek to deepen ties with a variety of countries, including the U.S., American policymakers view South Korea's pursuit of closer ties with China as a direct threat to their country's regional primacy.In other words, U.S. policymakers' "zero-sum" mentality is not only wrong; it is impeding America's ability to harness China's influence to enhance, rather than undermine, regional stability.Such an architecture will be impossible to achieve as long as the U.S. is pressuring its allies to alienate, if not antagonize, China. The U.S. should be encouraging allies like South Korea, Australia and Thailand (but not Japan and the Philippines, given their involvement in territorial conflicts with China) to engage further with China.
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