Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Asia, Obama carefully calibrates China message

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — President Barack Obama is hopscotching through China's neighborhood with a carefully calibrated message for Beijing, trying both to counter and to court.

During visits to U.S. allies, Obama has signaled that American military power can blunt Chinese aggression in the Asia-Pacific region, even as he urges Beijing to use its growing clout to help resolve international disputes with Russia and North Korea.

The dual tracks underscore Beijing's outsized importance to Obama's four-country swing through Asia, even though China is absent from his itinerary.

The president opened a long-awaited visit to Malaysia on Saturday, following stops in Japan and South Korea, and ahead of a visit to the Philippines.

Obama's trip comes at a tense time for the region, where China's aggressive stance in territorial disputes has its smaller neighbors on edge.

There also are continued questions about the White House's commitment to a greater U.S. focus on Asia. In an affirmation, Obama is expected to sign a security agreement with the Philippines clearing the way for an increased American troop presence there.

In Tokyo, Obama asserted that a treaty obligating the United States to defend Japan would apply if Beijing makes a move on a string of islands in the East China Sea that Japan administers but China also claims.

Yet, at times, Obama has tempered his tough talk in an attempt to avoid antagonizing Beijing.

To the chagrin of the Japanese, Obama said the United States would not pick sides in the sovereignty claims at the heart of the region's territorial disputes. He repeatedly declared that the United States is not asking Asian allies to choose between a relationship with Washington and Beijing.

"I think there's enormous opportunities for trade, development, working on common issues like climate change with China," Obama said during a news conference in Tokyo. "But what we've also emphasized — and I will continue to emphasize throughout this trip — is that all of us have responsibilities to help maintain basic rules of the road and an international order."

Analysts say Obama can maintain a China policy that both looks to Beijing for help while also trying to counter its rise, but only if the dividing line between those positions remains clear.

"If you are consistent, they'll be willing to have you push them occasionally on things that are sensitive or where there are areas of dispute," Chris Johnson, a China scholar at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said of Beijing's leaders. "It's where you're not consistent and they're not sure what you're going to do next that causes them … consternation."

President Barack Obama stands with Malaysian King Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Queen Haminah Hamidun before a state dinner at National Palace on Saturday.

Associated Press

President Barack Obama stands with Malaysian King Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Queen Haminah Hamidun before a state dinner at National Palace on Saturday.

In Asia, Obama carefully calibrates China message 04/26/14 [Last modified: Sunday, April 27, 2014 12:58am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump meeting with G-7 leaders after going on offensive

    Nation

    TAORMINA, Italy — In the Middle East, President Donald Trump was feted with pageantry, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Israel seemingly in competition to outdo the other with the warmth of their welcomes and the depth of their pledges of cooperation.

    From left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni arrive for the group photo at the G7 Taormina summit on the island of Sicily on Friday  in Taormina, Italy. [Getty Images]
  2. Perspective: As the toll climbs, advocates bring renewed attention to Florida gun violence

    Perspective

    Times Staff Writer

    Like most 12-year-old girls, Ra'Mya Eunice loved slumber parties.

    The Empire State Building in New York City was bathed in tangerine light last year to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day. It was part of the Wear Orange campaign led by the non-profit Everytown for Gun Safety. [Courtesy of Everytown for Gun Safety]
  3. Lawyer says Kushner willing to cooperate with investigators

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is willing to cooperate with federal investigators looking into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, his attorney said.

    In this May 23 photo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, left, and his wife Ivanka Trump watch during a visit by President Donald Trump to Yad Vashem to honor the victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem. The Washington Post is reporting that the FBI is investigating meetings that Trump's son-in-law, Kushner, had in December 2016, with Russian officials. [AP photo]
  4. Muslim faith greater than fear for Wharton's Rania Samhouri (w/video)

    Tranckandfieldpreps

    TAMPA — Rania Samhouri graduated Monday night from Wharton High School, and many times throughout the ceremony she flashed back to a moment that changed her life.

     Rania Samhouri stretches after track practice on Monday April 24, 2017 at Wharton High School in Tampa, Florida. Rania, who is Muslim, recently started wearing her hijab during track competitions. She graduates from Wharton this year and will attend University of South Florida on scholarship next year.
  5. Deputies seek two men in attempted armed home invasion robbery in Seminole

    Crime

    Detectives are searching for two men they say broke into a home in Seminole Thursday night in an attempted armed robbery.