News / USA

    Obama, ASEAN Seek to ‘Advance Regional Order’ at US Summit

    U.S. President Barack Obama makes opening remarks at the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, Feb. 15, 2016.
    U.S. President Barack Obama makes opening remarks at the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, Feb. 15, 2016.
    Mary Alice Salinas

    President Barack Obama says the United States and the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can together “advance a regional order where all nations play by the same rules.”

    Speaking Monday at the opening of the first U.S.-hosted ASEAN summit in Rancho Mirage, California, Obama said ASEAN is “central” to peace and prosperity in the southeast Asian region.

    At a glance: The ASEAN summit

    Goal: a set of international rules

    During the two-day summit at the historic and scenic Sunnylands retreat, leaders are expected to work on crafting a set of principles “where international rules and norms, including freedom of navigation, are upheld and where disputes are resolved through peaceful, legal means,” said Obama.

    The White House views America’s leadership role and engagement in the region as critical to the United States' future prosperity and a vital counterbalance to China’s influence there.

    The ASEAN nations include Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.  The dynamic and diverse region is experiencing robust growth and rising tensions, potentially affecting the global economy and security.

    Protesters line one side of a roadway leading to Sunnylands where U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to host leaders from Southeast Asia at the ASEAN Summit in Rancho Mirage, California, Feb. 15, 2016.
    Protesters line one side of a roadway leading to Sunnylands where U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to host leaders from Southeast Asia at the ASEAN Summit in Rancho Mirage, California, Feb. 15, 2016.

    Wide-ranging agenda 

    The leaders will discuss trade and commerce, innovation and entrepreneurship, the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, violent extremism and the creation of a common set of principles to guide nations on a range of issues, including maritime disputes in the South China Sea. 

    Speaking to reporters in Rancho Mirage, U.S. National Security Advisory Susan Rice said Southeast Asia is “increasingly the world’s political and economic center of gravity” and “a natural partner of the United States.

    Territorial disputes in the South China Sea and China’s increasing activities in its contested waters will be a key topic during the summit.

    Obama will speak frankly about U.S. opposition to China’s “militarization” of disputed areas and any escalation of tensions across the region, White House officials said.

    It is a sensitive issue for ASEAN countries who want to see a productive relationship between Washington and Beijing and are uneasy about tensions between the two superpowers.

    Though the U.S. is not a claimant in the South China Sea disputes, Obama is expected to make clear the U.S. will continue recent freedom of navigation operations in a region that includes the world’s busiest waterways. 
    “We fully support freedom of navigation and we will stand by our partners,” Rice said.

    Beijing says it has long had a rightful claim to the disputed territories.

    Watch: The South China Sea Dispute

    The South China Sea Disputei
    X
    Diana Logreira
    December 09, 2015 3:10 PM
    The U. S. has said establishing a “rule-based order” for the South China Sea, which carries a large portion of the world's maritime freight traffic, is critical to regional security and economic prosperity, both cornerstones of U.S. policy on the Asia-Pacific. China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea have raised tensions with surrounding countries. Beijing has been conducting dredging projects on seven disputed formations for nearly two years, creating artificial mini islands.

    North Korea
    The U.S. and ASEAN leaders will also discuss North Korea’s recent rocket testing and what role China can play in pressuring Pyongyang to end its “provocative” actions.

    While the China and the U.S. have disagreed on North Korea, the U.S. sees a common interest with China in ensuring the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

    But ultimately the ASEAN summit is about building a cohesive region committed to rules and fairness, administration officials said.

    Over the last seven years, ASEAN has become “the region’s leading forum for addressing political and security challenges” said Obama, adding “our sustained engagement is delivering concrete results that benefit all of us.”

    A North Korean long-range rocket is launched into the air at the Sohae rocket launch site, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo, Feb. 7, 2016.
    A North Korean long-range rocket is launched into the air at the Sohae rocket launch site, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo, Feb. 7, 2016.

    A young and rich region

    The 10 ASEAN members combined comprise the third-largest economy in Asia, and the seventh-largest in the world, with a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion, according to the U.S. More than 65 percent of its 632 million people are younger than the age of 35.

    Trade between the U.S. and ASEAN countries has increased by 55 percent in seven years, according to the White House. 

    Southeast Asia is now America’s fourth largest goods trading partner, said the president, including U.S. exports that sustain more than 500,000 U.S. jobs.  And he credited investment by U.S. companies in ASEAN for the region’s growing middle class.

    WATCH: U.S. President Obama speaks at ASEAN summit

    Obama Seeks to Solidify America as Leader in SE Asiai
    X
    February 16, 2016 1:57 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama hosts the leaders of all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a historic two-day summit in California.

    Human rights still a concern

    On the question of human rights, Rice acknowledged some ASEAN nations “have a long way to go” but she “strenuously” disputed claims that the U.S. is “legitimizing” the behavior of governments with poor records.
    "We take every opportunity to talk on human rights,” she said.

    At the summit opening, Obama told ASEAN leaders “together, we can continue to support the aspirations and dignity of our citizens,” and said the recent election in Myanmar “gives hope for a nation that is inclusive, united, peaceful and democratic.”

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Edward
    February 16, 2016 11:54 PM
    TPP will release u.s.local jobs to oversee for sure.

    by: Ricardo from: Brazil
    February 15, 2016 2:52 PM
    The devaluation is common in poor countries, and recently has been used up by China.

    Devaluation makes the trip to the United States more expensive, and also makes American products almost inaccessible to much of the world's population. Ie, it increases the demand for foreign goods and services in the United States, generating jobs and income abroad, while the workforce and American market shrinks.

    The United States is going through a phase of economic growth, but in the long term this will be difficult to maintain. While American foreign debt increases by one trillion dolars a year, China and other countries increase their reserves.

    To reverse this situation it is necessary major changes. This will be difficult because many countries are part of the TPP.

    by: Anonymous
    February 15, 2016 4:16 AM
    Obama is smartly saving resources from being wasted in the Middle East (including Syria) to focus on East Asia.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 14, 2016 10:07 PM
    Obama had 8 years to accomplish something worthwhile as president, [and now], he's got 8 final months out of his 8 years as president to do what he failed to do so far, [and now], leaving the US and the world in the worst shape it's been in since WW2, [by surrendering Iraq and Afghanistan to the terrorists, and letting a few thousand terrorists expand into a real world power with a standing army and a ISIL Caliphate that's fighting in conflicts and wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, while attacking countries everywhere around the world, [that now], is threatening to become a super power with nuclear weapons, and letting China grab almost all the whole South China sea, and letting North Korea develop hydrogen bombs while shooting rockets into space, and letting Russia take Crimea while the US stood helplessly by, with Iran free to develop nuclear weapons?

    Does Obama really think the next president and commander in chief will follow in his failed footsteps on anything? .. In his north, south, east or west pivot strategy to contain anybody? .. REALLY?
    In Response

    by: Yspirit008 from: Australia
    February 16, 2016 11:22 PM
    Do you think US can do as many as what you said just above? You guy overstated US capability. If US did not go around like a world dog to bark around, the world would have been filled more peace and love maybe. Think about what US has done in Iraq for the past 10 years. If US keeps cracking on Iraq or North Korea, it may get more troubles. US should look back to see why the world pop ups so many so called IS, though I am against them.



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