News / Asia

China Shores Up Regional Deals as Obama Cancels Asia Trip

China's President Xi Jinping (L) and Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak shake hands after their joint news conference at Najib's office in Putrajaya, near Kuala Lumpur Oct. 4, 2013.
China's President Xi Jinping (L) and Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak shake hands after their joint news conference at Najib's office in Putrajaya, near Kuala Lumpur Oct. 4, 2013.
Kate Lamb
With the continuing government shutdown at home, President Barack Obama has canceled his trip to two key Asian meetings, an economic summit in Bali and an East Asia security conference in Brunei, as well as stops in Malaysia and the Philippines. Analysts say the cancellation risks the integrity of the president’s so-called Asia pivot.
 
Obama’s planned four-nation tour was intended to strengthen America’s economic and military commitment to Southeast Asia.
 
But Aleksius Jemadu, a professor of international relations at Pelita Harapan University in Jakarta, said the cancellation raises questions about the president’s commitment to the region.
 
“I think Obama's administration has to convince again partners in Asia that the United States is really serious about the plan to focus on Asia," Jemadu said, "taking into account the economic emergence of countries China, India and emerging markets like Indonesia in the Asia Pacific.”
 
Over the next five years around 70 percent of global growth will come from emerging markets, with China and India accounting for more than 40 percent of that expansion.
 
The Obama administration’s “Asia pivot” was announced in 2011 as diplomatic and military outreach to a growing region considered vital to America’s future.
 
But with civil war in Syria, a military coup in Egypt and now Congressional deadlock at home, analysts say the administration’s attention has pivoted away.
 
Speaking from the Philippines, former U.S. under secretary of defense Walter Slocombe defended the U.S. commitment to the region despite President’s Obama’s decision to stay at home.
 
“The cancellation is because the president has to be in Washington to deal with a major internal U.S. political problem and cannot be outside for the long time that it would be involved," he noted, "it has nothing to do with Asia policy it has to do with the fact that we are in the middle of a political confrontation in Washington and the president has to be there to deal with it.”
 
But while the U.S. president has been consumed by the budget standoff, China’s president has been busy shoring up regional deals.
 
In a visit to Jakarta this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed 23 business agreements valued at $33 billion. In Malaysia on Friday, the Chinese leader agreed to boost bilateral trade to $160 billion by 2017.
 
The Chinese President is also lobbying for a closer relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, a regional grouping with which it already has a free trade agreement.
 
China is one of ASEAN’s most significant economic partners, but its aggressive claims in the South China Sea have raised territorial tensions.
 
Analysts say Obama’s absence at APEC, will allow China ample room to court regional heads of state.
 
Wang Junsheng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said although APEC is not important for China in terms of security issues, it provides an important platform for multi-lateral diplomacy efforts.
 
With 21 members, APEC represents the most vital economic bloc in the world and according to Junsheng, China will use this meeting to develop ties with member countries such as Russia and South Korea.
 
The APEC CEO summit will be held in Bali from October 5-7 and will host heads of state from across the region, including China, Japan, Korea, Russia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
 
The forum comes as the U.S. is working to secure the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a giant free trade pact among 12 countries. It does not include China.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid