President Barack Obama and Southeast Asian Leaders @ SunnyLands


February 16, 2016

President Barack Obama and Southeast Asian Leaders @SunnyLands Summit

by Reuters

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 February 15, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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 February 15, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

President Barack Obama gathered leaders from Southeast Asia on Monday to strengthen trade ties and form a common stance on the South China Sea in a summit the White House hopes will solidify U.S. influence in the region.

Obama, who leaves office next year, has championed a foreign policy pivot to Asia during his presidency and is determined to present the United States as a Pacific power.

His meeting with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was aimed at cementing that legacy.

“This reflects my personal commitment, and the national commitment of the United States, to a strong and enduring partnership with your 10 nations,” he said at the start of the two-day summit at Sunnylands, a California resort.

The meeting, at the same location where Obama once hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping, was designed to demonstrate Washington’s role as a counterweight to Beijing and as an eager trading partner with ASEAN members.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice told reporters that U.S. companies had more than doubled investment in the region since 2008.

On Monday the leaders were slated to focus on economic issues, including discussion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, which includes four ASEAN members: Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. Others are interested in joining, and the White House wants to make sure the pact takes effect.

On Tuesday, the leaders will discuss maritime issues, particularly the South China Sea, where China and several Southeast Asian states have conflicting and overlapping claims.

White House officials have said Obama would deliver a tough message to China that disputes over the South China Sea must be resolved peacefully and not by bullying.

“Here at this summit, we can advance our shared vision of a regional order where international rules and norms, including freedom of navigation, are upheld and where disputes are resolved through peaceful, legal means,” Obama said.

The challenge may be to get all ASEAN countries to agree on a strong statement on the issue. Officials say China has put pressure on countries such as Cambodia and Laos not to sign on.”I’m … confident that our shared commitment to upholding these norms will be reinforced,” Rice said.

China’s role in the region hung over the meeting. Rice said she expected China would support new international sanctions on North Korea for its recent rocket launches.

Advocacy group Human Rights Watch urged the Obama administration to object to human rights violations in countries such as Cambodia and Thailand during the summit.

The President touched on the issue without specifics during his remarks. “Here at the summit, we can reaffirm that strong, prosperous and inclusive societies require good governance, rule of law, accountable institutions, vibrant civil societies and upholding human rights,” he said.

Combating climate change and cooperating on counter-terrorism and the fight against Islamic State militants were also on the agenda.

Obama returns to Washington on Tuesday.

One thought on “President Barack Obama and Southeast Asian Leaders @ SunnyLands

  1. Sigh. Obama thought he has won a battle. He did not realize he has lost a major war for US. He has certianly lost the little trust Malaysians still have in a post Bush neocon era. Damn the neoliberals. Worst, Najib and the Asean leaders will probably sign another trade deal with China respectively in the near future, and there is nothing US could do about it. 😘 All eyes on Singapore to sign that trade deal with China first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s