Monday, November 14, 2011

It's all about China

President Obama is in Hawaii, but his focus is on a nation further in the Pacific region -- China.

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at what's on the president's agenda.
At virtually every point in President Obama's nine-day Asia-Pacific trip, he is expected to deliver a message aimed squarely at China: that the U.S. will recommit to the region and serve as a reliable counterweight to Beijing's growing military and economic might.

The theme emerged soon after Obama touched down in his birth state, Hawaii, for a weekend summit with the leaders of 21 Asia-Pacific countries. In a private meeting with Obama, Chinese President
Hu Jintao said his nation was revaluing the yuan and moving gradually toward a more market-based currency policy, a U.S. official said. But Obama, who said China's economic practices put the U.S. and other countries at a disadvantage, told Hu the changes weren't coming swiftly enough and that China needed to pick up the pace.
The president, as the Guardian notes, might find that his message is not warmly received in China. 
Barack Obama's plan to forge a Pacific-region trade pact received a big boost over the weekend as Canada and Mexico joined Japan in expressing support for a deal. But the proposals, potentially the biggest for 17 years, received a cool reception from China, as Obama accused Beijing of "gaming" the system.
Obama had made progress on the pact, one of his top priorities for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, being held in his home state of Hawaii. The progress was a major coup after a disappointing G20 meeting in Cannes earlier this month.
The president's supporters are likely to want to give him a thumbs-up, after learning that the Chinese raised the value of its currency. But Business Week notes that appearances can be deceiving
“China usually lets the yuan gain a bit, like sending a gift when it comes to Sino-U.S. meetings,” said Kenix Lai, a Hong Kong-based currency analyst at Bank of East Asia Ltd. “China will only appreciate the yuan at its own desired pace as it doesn’t want to appear as being influenced by political pressure.”
The posturing associated with the China-U.S. geopolitical relationship is getting a bit boring -- the president makes a demand, and his Chinese counterpart politely stiffs him. There's little chance of this rather amateurish song-and-dance will end any time soon. 

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