by Xinhua writer Deng Yushan
BEIJING, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Six months after a government shutdown forced him to scrap an Asia visit, U.S. President Barack Obama comes to the dynamic continent to consolidate Washington's engagement with the Asia-Pacific region.
The four-nation tour unfolds on the background of the Obama administration's so-called "rebalancing to Asia" policy, which features a U.S. commitment to shifting priorities and resources toward the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
Washington has good reason to pivot. Asia has grown into the powerhouse of the world economy; it is home to important U.S. allies and brimful of significant U.S. interests. Any country disregarding or even discounting the role of Asia would do so to its own peril.
But that is not all there is to it. Beneath the pragmatic exterior lies the China factor. Despite Washington's repeated denial, its rebalancing strategy smacks of a carefully calculated scheme to cage the rapidly developing Asian giant by rallying U.S. allies and reinforcing U.S. presence.
While the outer layer of Washington's logic indicates an adaptable and far-sighted global colossus, the inner layer betrays a sclerotic and myopic superpower trapped by recent history in a confrontational mindset and blinded by outmoded realism to China's peaceful orientation.
Such a double character is dangerous and unsustainable. With the Asian landscape having altered dramatically, the United States needs to shake off its historical and philosophical shackles and update its Asia policy in line with the new realities, both for its own benefit and for that of the region and globe at large.
The first and foremost point in the overdue overhaul is that Washington should respect China's core interests and work genuinely with Beijing to build mutual trust and improve bilateral relations.
Interaction between the world's top two economies is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. Although Obama skirts China in his trip, China will not skirt him in his meetings with Japanese, South Korean, Malaysian and Philippine hosts.
The two heavyweights' dedication to cultivating a new type of major-country relations is strategically heartening, but Washington needs to prop up its promise with action.
The least it can do is refrain from fanning the fabricated "China threat" theory and thrusting itself unfairly into territorial and maritime disputes between China and some of its neighbors.
In parallel, the United States should reappraise its anachronisitic hegemonic alliance system and stop pampering its chums like Japan and the Philippines that have been igniting regional tensions with provocative moves.
Emboldened -- at least accompanied -- by the U.S. refocusing on Asia, Tokyo and Manila have become increasingly assertive and pugnacious in handling their rows with Beijing in East and South China Seas.
In a stark sign of the waywardness of Washington's spoilt allies, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and an alarming number of other senior politicians have paid tribute over the past days to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 convicted Class-A WWII war criminals among Japan's war dead.
The offerings and visits, outrageous to China, South Korea and other victims of militarist Japan, came just on the eve of Obama's arrival, although his administration has explicitly urged Tokyo to mend its fences.
The slap in Obama's face should be smart enough to jerk Washington out of illusion and back to reality. Such side effects of its current modus operandi on Asia are what the United States really has to mind and contain.
It is high time that Obama sent a clear message to Asia and the world: He will live up to his self-proclaimed title as "America's first Pacific President" by reshaping his country into a responsible and constructive player in the Asia-Pacific region.
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BEIJING, April 22 (Xinhua) -- While outcries from Japan's neighbors barely died away over visits to a controversial war shrine by two cabinet ministers, 146 Japanese lawmakers turned up en masse in the Tokyo shrine on Tuesday, a new act of provocation that would further worsen the island's already tense relations with its neighbors.
In addition, the trip of nearly a fifth of Japanese lawmakers to the Yasukuni Shrine puts U.S. President Barack Obama in an awkward situation as it happened trickily on the eve of his three-day state visit to Japan. Full story
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