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American officials increasingly see China losing diplomatic ground in Asia as Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin heads to Singapore for a regional security forum that will include a meeting with a top Chinese defense official.

Determined not to be distracted by the war in Ukraine, administration officials say China has provided an opening for the U.S. to solidify relationships in Asia. That’s in large part because of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s insistence on "COVID zero" policies that have crimped economic growth, as well as a growing backlash against China’s assertive foreign policy.

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