Barack Obama’s cancellation of his planned trip to Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Indonesia for the East Asia Summit and the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit was a blow to his administration’s much-vaunted “pivot”, or rebalance, to Asia. What matters most now is how the US president and his team responds to this setback to the Asia-Pacific region, which had been anticipating Mr Obama’s visit to southeast Asia on several counts.
First, a visit would have underscored the president’s determination to make the East Asia Summit the foundational leaders’ meeting for the region. There was also the hope at the Apec meetings for significant progress around remaining sticking points associated with the complex negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Continue reading »