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China’s recent attempt to bolster its influence on Pacific island countries is likely to further complicate relations with its neighbor Japan, a close U.S. ally in Asia, probably jeopardizing the security situation in the region.

If China gains a military foothold in the island nations, the United States would need to keep a closer watch on the south of the Pacific Ocean, which could undermine deterrence against Beijing in the South China Sea and waters near Taiwan and Japan.

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