Barack Obama's US election victory "largely positive" for Asia

Featured - November 8th, 2012
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US President Barack Obama has been given another four years following a close race in an electoral battle in which Asia at times took center stage as a focal point for the military superpower as it shifts from the Middle East.

Mr. Obama’s victory has consolidated his “pivot to Asia” policy, aimed at reassuring the region of the US’ presence to counter Chinese aggression and the burgeoning nuclear arms race.

But many believe that the administration may need to rebuild ties with China after a bruising political campaign amid mounting tensions over Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, which the US sees as a crucial shipping lane to international trade. The US has pledged to extend its missile defense systems to deter potential attacks from North Korea and has developed relations with Myanmar as it heads toward democratization. It will also deploy US Marines in Australia, a move seen as a jab at China as it seeks influence in the region, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Obama still needs to address trade disputes with China in the World Trade Organization and probe Mitt Romney’s claim that Beijing is manipulating its currency to benefit its exporters, hurting US manufacturers. Mr. Obama has lifted sanctions on Myanmar, paving the way for investment in the once-isolated and potentially resource-rich state.

Some Asian nations congratulated Mr. Obama on his re-election, which they hope will bring about stronger ties. Chinese experts said Mr. Obama’s victory will likely be positive for US-China relations. “Mr. Obama is the lesser of two evils,” Shi Yinhong, a US-China relations expert at Renmin University in Beijing, told the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, analysts believe there will be more room for negotiations as both sides will bring fresh faces at their side of the table with the leadership transition in China.