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A meeting between Moon Jae-in, Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin in Seoul South Korean President Moon Jae-in meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, in Seoul, March 18, 2021 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

South Korea Is Staying Out of the U.S.-China Rivalry

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

South Koreans often refer to their country with a famous proverb: “In a fight between whales, the shrimp’s back gets broken.” But rather than a shrimp, Seoul is betting that it can become a dolphin, giving it more agency and maneuverability as competition heats up between the United States and China.

Getting it right would allow the country to balance its security alliance with the United States along with its economic dependence on China. Getting it wrong would see South Korea alienated in the region, distrusted by both Washington and Beijing. This balance will prove difficult, but South Korean leaders are unlikely to stop trying. ...

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