News / Asia

Asia Looks for Hopeful Signs from Obama Speech on US Jobs

A construction site of the Hong Kong headquarters of China Construction Bank (Asia) is seen in front of Bank of America Tower at Hong Kong's financial Central district, August 25, 2011
A construction site of the Hong Kong headquarters of China Construction Bank (Asia) is seen in front of Bank of America Tower at Hong Kong's financial Central district, August 25, 2011
Ivan Broadhead

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to outline his plans for boosting American employment and shoring up an economy that some analysts fear may be headed to another recession.  Although his speech Thursday is mainly aimed at Americans, the stumbling U.S. economy is of great concern in Asia, where there are expectations that growth in China  will reach a 10-year low and other nations may be economically vulnerable.

Asian countries have posted steady economic growth during much of the last decade, but the dean of business at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Leonard Cheng, says U.S. fiscal well-being remains crucial to the region’s continued growth.

"Asian economies are very much externally oriented. Many of them depend on exports of goods to the U.S., Europe and Japan. Since the U.S. still accounts for one quarter of the global economy, you can imagine that the U.S. is very important," he said.

Cheng expects Obama to focus on sustainable growth and job creation in his speech.  He says Asian governments are eager for the U.S. economy to once again become an engine for growth.

Singapore, which witnessed 15 percent growth last year, announced this week that it expected to move back into recession next quarter on a drop in U.S. exports exacerbated by fears about European sovereign debt.

Further north, Seoul is hoping that the U.S. Congress will ratify a Free Trade Agreement between Korea and the U.S. so both countries can benefit from a relaxation in bilateral tariffs.

However, with both Democrats and Republicans worried that it could lead to thousands more American jobs lost overseas, the deal may not have the votes to pass.

Perhaps most exposed to the U.S. downturn is China.  More than 20 percent of its total exports are bought by U.S. consumers and Beijing holds $1.2 trillion of U.S. Treasury Bonds.   Cheng calculates that exports from China to the United States still account for between four and six percent of China’s GDP.

This week Huang Guobo, chief economist with the State Administration for Foreign Exchange, reported that China’s growth is softening and could fall below nine percent next quarter, its slowest rate since 1991.

Cheng argues that Asian governments, particularly Beijing, must satisfy themselves with a more gradual rate of growth. He says Americans have to change their consumption habits if the President’s plans are to be effective.

"Work harder, yes, but consume a little bit less so that they can have enough savings to pay off their debt - at least not let their debt grow larger and larger. And, Asians need to be aware that this is good for the U.S. and good for them too in the long term. Even though in the short term, everyone wants to sell as much as possible to the United States," said Cheng.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Monday that he hopes China can boost global economic growth by expanding domestic demand and reducing its reliance on exports.

Sophie Leung, a Hong Kong legislator and deputy to China’s National People’s Congress, says she is confident that China can play a role in assisting the U.S. recovery as increasingly affluent consumers look to purchase American goods.

"As the new 12th Five Year plan indicated, China would like to divert from export to import. And, I think this is something that President Obama might be catering his speech towards; tapping that [demand]. As China’s consumers start waking up, [they will] want choice, and I think American products have a lot to offer, beyond just Coca Cola and jeans," she said.

For poorer Asian countries, cuts of more than 40 percent to U.S. development budgets could take a more serious toll on vulnerable economies.  Cheng says regional instability could become a concern the longer it takes the United States to struggle back to profitability.

"I think Asian governments already are under pressure now because of inflation and a very uneven income distribution and wealth distribution," said Cheng.

After President Obama’s address, attention will likely shift to Friday’s G7 meeting in Marseille for a further indication of how the United States and other leading economies can collectively support global growth and job creation.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs