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Xi seeks to strongarm Moon in bid to divide US and Asia allies

Chinese leader makes overtures in deftly timed telephone talk with South Korean counterpart

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a bilateral meeting in December 2017. Xi spoke with Moon by phone before the latter had could do the same with U.S. President Joe Biden.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- With President Joe Biden working to repair and strengthen U.S. alliances in Asia, China has launched its own diplomatic campaign to counter Washington's efforts, starting in South Korea.

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke with South Korean President Moon Jae-in by phone Jan. 26, just as Moon was awaiting his first call with the American leader inaugurated days before.

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