Listen Up! What the world thinks of 'America’s Pacific Century’
November 18th, 2011
03:27 PM ET

Listen Up! What the world thinks of 'America’s Pacific Century’

Editor's Note: Every week, the Global Public Square brings you some must-read editorials from around the world addressed to America and Americans. The series is called Listen up, America!

President Obama is focused on East Asia and the Pacific this week. After attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hawaii last weekend, Obama traveled to Australia where, on Thursday, he addressed the parliament. His message: "In the Asia Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in."

Later that day, President Obama traveled to the city of Darwin along the northern coast, where the U.S. announced it will station 2,500 Marines. The summit and travel, which also include a stop in Indonesia, are seen as the U.S. shifting attention to the Pacific - and to a rising China - as troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are some of the international responses to what Secretary of State Clinton recently dubbed "America's Pacific Century."

Australia – “Despite the rising economic, diplomatic and military reach of China, U.S. supremacy is the bedrock of security in the region,” says an editorial in the Sydney-based Australian.

“[The United States] underwrites the security of South Korea and Japan, it quells the tensions across the Taiwan Straits, it keeps the seaways open, bolsters the counter-terrorism operations of countries such as Indonesia, and even, in a less direct fashion, has added ballast to Australia's life-saving interventions in East Timor and the Solomon Islands. And when natural disasters, such as the Boxing Day tsunami strike, the region looks automatically to Washington, not Beijing, for assistance.”

Indonesia – NIMBY, or “not in my backyard,” says an editorial in the Jakarta Post of stationing U.S. troops in northern Australia.

“The presence of the U.S. base just south of Indonesia is simply too close for comfort. … there are many fruitful and less threatening ways of increasing U.S. engagement other than building a greater military presence.”

China – “Is there any country in the region that wants the United States to be its leader?” asks Wei Jianhua in China’s state-run Xinhua news. The provided answer: "No."

“It's hard to envision what kind of 'leadership' the United States aspires to have in the region. What the region really needs - right now - is a strong and reliable partner that can help the region stave off the current financial crisis and seek balanced and sustained growth."

Japan – “Tokyo and Washington are concerned about how to respond to Beijing,” says an editorial in the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbun.

“China has been rapidly enhancing its influence and becoming more assertive, increasing frictions with other countries in the South China Sea. To lead China in the direction of complying with international rules and working together with its neighbors in the medium and long term, Japan and the United States must closely cooperate with South Korea, Australia and Southeast Asian countries.”

Saudi Arabia — “Really?” asks an editorial in the Jeddah-based Arab News of President Obama saying the Pacific is the top priority.

“The Asia Pacific region is more important than the Middle East with all its crises? More important than solving the Palestinian-Israeli issue? More important than famine and political instability in the Horn of Africa and the dangers of it becoming a hub of international terrorism? More important than the nuclear ambitions that the U.S. is convinced Iran harbors?”

Australia – A Sydney Morning Herald editorial says stationing U.S. Marines in Australia is “a significant turn in the direction of Australia's foreign policy.” While Australia “had been negotiating a potentially tricky course part-way between” the U.S. and China, the “helm has now been turned decisively to one side.”

“Australia would have had much to gain from keeping to its middle course between two great powers. Having taken sides early, though, we have taken a risk. We will find out in coming years how much was at stake in that premature decision.”

China— “Americans should realize that neither side would win in a trade war and must prevent the Obama administration from taking any rash decision,” writes Deng Yuwen in the China Daily. President Obama, the U.S. Congress and Republican Presidential candidates have in recent weeks sought to pressure China over its currency policy, claiming the yuan is undervalued.

“Many of the goods China exports to the U.S. are inexpensive daily necessities and favored by Americans because of their low prices. Therefore, if the yuan's value increases by 30 percent, the majority of Americans' cost of living could go up by a similar percentage."

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Topics: Asia • Australia • China • Listen up!

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. David

    Obama is leading the US down the wrong path when he cannot solve the US financial problem and reduce the unemployment in the large. He is worst than G.W. Bush who led the US into two wars and created more than $1.5 trillon debt. At least the unemployment rate is not that high during the Bush years.

    November 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Reply
    • mark o. david

      U.S. credibility was not high either during the Shrub years.Amazing how americans will elect a 1% er represent theit interests.What fools

      December 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  2. Onesmallvoice

    Unfortunately, the right-wing thugs in Washington are trying to becoma even more dominant in the Pacific than ever before. This goes to show their unlimited greed for power as although they can't run this country very well, they want to run everybody else's!!!

    November 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Actually most countries in Pacific Asia don't mind the U.S. presence. It's understandable that China resents it, as the U.S. presence works like a wedge against it's spread of influence in the region. Indonesia doesn't seem to appreciate an American base. in Australia, as it is a nation with the world's most populous Muslim-majority, with 86.1% of Indonesians being Muslims.

      November 19, 2011 at 6:06 am | Reply
  3. RedWhiteBlue

    Obama in Oz. That has a nice ring to it. Or is it Obama AS Oz?

    The grandstanding has to be backed with real strength. Obama as Oz is an apt description, as in the guy sitting and bellowing in his deep voice behind the emerald green curtain.

    America is too emasculated by the banksters' debacle in 2008, yet too full of hubris to ask for help from China. Instead President BO blusters and resorts to military threats (the American solution for everything) in lieu of using principled diplomacy.

    November 18, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Reply
  4. David

    I am sure not going to vote for Obama Hussin next year.

    November 18, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  5. That'snottrue:[

    Well ,now you can see, not a lot of countries even want such an aggressive country there. Prending to be the leader.
    Note to the big O (Not Oprah), at the very least solve your debt problem before meddling in another continent!!!

    November 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Reply
  6. Anon

    See folks.. if you want to push a bargain you also need a few levers to push on. If you want the big D Dragon to play fair on the currency issue, build leverage through other means.. perhaps by building a base in Darwin and perhaps by teaming up with Beijing's "old pals" in the South China sea. Otherwise, you really have nothing on China for them to listen to your "concerns".

    November 19, 2011 at 1:13 am | Reply
    • vokoyo

















      November 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  7. Cantmakethisup

    Let me see: The greedy American Capitalists gave away our factories, jobs, tecnology to China while stuffing their pockets. They downgraded the American Dream for the 99%, now they will use what is left of the US Treasury to protect their hill gotten gains. I still remember a time when there was hardly any imports and everybody had a job.
    We wrongly blame the Chinese people for our problems. We should blame our Government for not protecting us.
    Let's use another 400-500 billions of dollars to protect ourselves from the Chineses. Use that money to protect us from the internal greed that is slowly downgrading us to live in a 3rd World Nation.

    November 19, 2011 at 9:47 am | Reply
    • Onesmallvoice

      Thank you, Cantmakethisup. That was very well put and quite true, too.

      November 19, 2011 at 10:37 am | Reply
  8. Joe

    The U.S. does not belong to the East Asia (unless I was taught wrong in schools). It is strange to include the U.S. into the "East Asia" summit.

    The U.S. is in Asia only for two purposes: 1) To stir up conflicts and tensions in East Asia to slow down the East Asia's economic growth so that the U.S. can pull itself out of the economic slump; 2) From the stirred-up conflicts between the Philippines & Vietnam against China, the U.S. can sell more arms to ASEAN and to find a perfect excuse to sanction China (again for the U.S. own selfish benefits).

    The U.S. is an opportunist. It is not an Asia country. It is there only to make profits at the expenses of the East Asians. Once Asia (especially China) is in ruin (due to the U.S. war machine), the U.S. will leave Asia and become an Atlantic nation again. The U.S. has messed up the lives of middle eastern and Africa; it is doing it again to the Asians. The U.S. is a true shameless opportunist and a real world murder that exploits the pretext of "freedom", "democracy"!!!

    November 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  9. Mahavir

    Some GPS IDEAS...

    Small device with LED display can be hanged in
    the wall which showing the GPS position of
    current place. GPS values can be attached
    along with the address in visiting card.

    November 20, 2011 at 4:51 am | Reply
  10. Michelle G

    Why would we send troops into an area where we have no wars or military conflicts? Unless we are planning to start one.

    November 20, 2011 at 8:58 am | Reply
    • That'snottrue:[

      LOL, so true... unfortunately...

      November 20, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  11. Bobo

    More jobs will move to Pacific.

    November 20, 2011 at 11:46 am | Reply
  12. Mary

    I find it fascinating that we're turning our attention from the Middle East while we still have close to 100,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. We should be focusing on wrapping up the two costly and needless wars, and think twice before taking aggressive steps that could provoke another one.

    November 20, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Reply

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