asia pivot

From April 22 to April 29, U.S. President Barack Obama visited Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines in what many observers called an attempt to solidify his administration’s “rebalance to Asia.” The Diplomat spoke with Dr. Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, about Obama’s goals for the trip, and the major events at each of his stops.

President Barack Obama has said the US and Malaysia are at the start of a "new era of partnership", on the second day of his official visit. Obama was speaking at a state banquet with Malaysian King Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah. He is due to meet Prime Minister Najib Razak later. It is the first such visit by a serving US president for nearly 50 years.

In November 2011, Barack Obama told the Australian parliament that the United States was embarking on a major shift in its foreign policy—with a pivot to Asia. “After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure,” he said, “the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region.”

In 2013, Indonesia hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leadership meeting. Established in 1989, APEC has 21 member states that are committed to promoting trade and economic cooperation in the region. The summit was overshadowed by the absence of President Obama, who canceled his trip to manage the partial U.S. government shutdown.

A range of crises in the Middle East dominated the U.S. foreign policy agenda in 2013, raising questions about the vigor of President Obama's Asia "pivot." Four experts offer perspectives on how the region is reacting to U.S. moves in Asia. China has reacted with "assertive authoritarianism," CFR's Elizabeth Economy writes, while Southeast Asian governments remain ambivalent to the supposed shift, according to Tim Huxley of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

President Obama’s trimming of stops on a trip to Asia this month has raised questions locally about the US government’s two-year-old rebalancing of resources to the region, a shift embraced by allies such as Japan and the Philippines as their common rival China looms larger. Following a partial shutdown of the federal government this week, the president put off visits with heads of state in Malaysia and the Philippines. He is still evaluating whether to attend economic events in two other Asian countries.

On Sept 24, when US President Barack Obama gave his speech in front of the United Nations, he caused a buzz not by what he said, but by what he failed to mention. During his speech, Obama mentioned China once, and the Koreas, Japan, and India zero times, noted most prominently by Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group.

As political tensions increase in East Asia, various pundits are questioning American strategy and ability to address security issues. Most of these questions challenged President Obama’s “Asia Pivot” – the new American defense strategy that calls for strengthening American military might in the Asia-Pacific.