Biden team's China focus puts S.Korea on the spot

For the first time in years there are liberal presidents in South Korea and the United States, but the change in U.S. administrations hasn't made it any easier for Seoul to balance its alliance with Washington and its economic reliance on China.

The Americans' message has focused on marshaling their Asian alliances to counter potential "coercion and aggression" by Beijing. That represents a challenge for Seoul, which is not eager to provoke China - its largest economic partner.

Austin, while meeting South Korea's Defense Minister Suk Wook, said that China and North Korea are presenting "unprecedented challenges," but the alliance is more important than ever.