Tag Archives: ASEAN

Obama’s missed Asia trip is no disaster—if he follows up strong (new at China-US Focus)

In my latest piece for China-US Focus, I look at the impact of Obama’s decision to cancel planned travel to Asia and suggest that he can make up for missed opportunities.

Obama’s Missed Asia Trip Is No Disaster—If He Follows Up Strong

As the financial crisis gripped the United States in September 2008, Senator John McCain “suspended” his campaign for president to return to Washington and attend to Senate business. His opponent, Senator Barack Obama, refused to follow suit, saying “I think that it is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”

President Obama’s cancellation of his trip to Asia this week indicates that the government shutdown and the possibility of a default on U.S. government debt in the coming days have, in a sense, “suspended” U.S. foreign policy. Canceling this trip does matter, but it does not nullify broader U.S. policy on Asia, including the rebalance to the Asia Pacific. Instead, the cancellation is an unwelcome reinforcement of the perception that the Obama administration is neglecting its Asia policy.

Most journalists and commentators have argued that Obama’s cancellation is either disastrous for U.S. Asia policy or not a big deal. The truth, as usual, is somewhere in between. In the following four points, I argue that: the cancellation was unfortunate but not a disaster; the shutdown might be a disaster; and there are still good options for the Obama administration and U.S. relations with Asia and China.

[Continue reading at China-US Focus]

Abe, MoFA Aim For High-Level Meetings

Japan’s Foreign Ministry is looking to arrange high-level meetings with South Korean and Chinese officials in November at the APEC forum in Hanoi and at the ASEAN+3 meeting in December.

The lead candidate for LDP president, Abe Shinzo, said on Aug. 3 he would work as prime minister to resume top-level summits with Chinese leaders. “To avoid single issues from affecting the overall development of Japan-China relations, we need constructive discussion through direct dialogue,” he said.

Brief: Japan In ASEAN+3 Logistics Push

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — Japan will push for a joint study with Asean on an efficient regional logistic network which includes a future logistic map between Asean and China, Japan and South Korea in efforts to expedite and enhance the movement of goods within the region.

Japan, a key dialogue partner of Asean with extensive trade and business involvement in the region’s economies, wants a significant enhancement in logistic capabilities in the region so as to reap maximum benefits from the increasing free trade pacts with the 10-member organisation, an Asean diplomat said Thursday. [more | Bernama]

This may not be huge, but it shows that Japan continues to work on its regional influence even as relations with China and South Korea are tense over Koizumi’s public actions.