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Seoul holds firm as Beijing slams South Korea for moving closer to U.S.

Seoul is standing its ground after warnings from Beijing that it is making “wrong bets” in the Sino-U.S. rivalry, but challenges remain for South Korea as it tries to balance economic ties with China while deepening its deterrence capabilities with the U.S. and Japan.

Long wary of alienating China, its biggest trading partner and a key country in any attempt to rein in nuclear-armed North Korea, the push by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to build closer security and economic ties with Washington and Tokyo has both surprised and concerned China, especially as Washington’s rivalry with Beijing sends that relationship into a tailspin.

Observers say Beijing is wary of what it calls a U.S.-led policy of “containment, encirclement and suppression,” a push that it claims includes bringing Seoul on board.