Posted by: kookkhu | March 20, 2010

What Obama’s Visit to Indonesia Means for Asia. 2/5

A New Asia
Asia’s increasingly assertive leaders are demanding that the U.S. recognize the continent’s growing economic and geopolitical clout. Many feel that Obama, despite his personal ties to Asia, isn’t giving the region the respect it feels it merits. An editorial in the Bangkok Post – the leading English-language daily in Thailand, a nation that is usually dependably pro-American – summed up the prevailing sentiment: “Mr. Obama’s promises about restoring U.S. interest in Asia … have proved so far to be more talk than substance.” Asia matters for America. China is the third biggest consumer of American goods, after Canada and Mexico. The No. 4 spot belongs to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the 10-nation bloc that was founded, with American prodding, as a bulwark against communism in the 1960s. China’s economic resilience (8.7% GDP growth in 2009) helped the U.S. and other developed nations avoid even worse pain from the global financial crisis. The only other major economies that posted decent growth in an otherwise dismal year? India and Indonesia. Asia, in other words, thinks it is shoring up the global economy – and it wants its efforts appreciated. Obama has spoken persuasively about Asia’s significance. Last November, on his first visit to the continent as President, Obama vowed to address a perception that the George W. Bush Administration had overlooked Washington’s Pacific allies. “I want every American to know that we have a stake in the future of this region,” Obama said in Tokyo, “because what happens here has a direct effect on our lives at home.” But since then the Obama Administration has dropped the ball on promoting U.S.-Asia trade, neglecting to implement regional free-trade pacts. “We do hope that [Obama’s Asia visit] will not be like Santa Claus coming and just giving a few gifts and then flying away,” says Thailand’s Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, who has criticized what many Asians perceive as American protectionism. “Because what we need from America is conviction and sincerity that translate into real action.”


Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: