Obama was an imperial president

"America's First Pacific President"

US President Barack Obama's trip to Asia is no walk in the park for him. While the supremacy of the USA is steadily declining there, the power and self-confidence of the Asian countries, especially China, are growing rapidly. It is therefore hardly surprising that Obama stresses that he wants to promote the relationship between Beijing and Washington. Gone are the days when people in China had to look up to Americans. China's self-confidence is growing.

1500 guests attended Obama's keynote address

In a keynote address on foreign policy in front of 1,500 Japanese business people, scientists and other citizens on Saturday (November 14, 2009), Obama welcomed the growing importance of China in world politics. "The rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations," said the US president in Tokyo. For the USA, the Pacific-Asian region is of central importance for its own development. In the 40-minute speech he described himself as "America's first Pacific President".

New tones from Obama

In September, Obama met with China's President Hu Jintao

Closer cooperation between the US and China will benefit both countries. "We welcome China's efforts to play a bigger role on the world stage, a role in which the growing economy is accompanied by growing responsibility." The growing influence of one country does not have to come at the expense of other countries. For observers of US foreign policy, one thing is clear: the US administration under President Barack Obama is setting new tones towards China. "Strategic appeasement" is the name of the new path, which some in the western world, however, see as a cuddle course.

Human rights violations in the People's Republic are always a sensitive issue when dealing with the Chinese

In the global economic crisis, the US president continues to caress the Chinese soul. He paid tribute to China's contributions to economic growth and to security and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Beijing is also committed to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Criticism is only formulated very subtly: a few days before his visit to Shanghai and Beijing, the US President warned the Chinese leadership to respect human rights.

APEC meets in Singapore

But not only China has assumed a self-confident role in Asia. The heads of state and government of the 21 member states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum, APEC, will meet in Singapore this Saturday for their annual summit. The focus of the forum's deliberations will be on further combating the global economic crisis. And countries such as Japan or South Korea are not just economic heavyweights that formulate their views. According to Obama, the development of the Asia-Pacific region also has a direct impact on "our lives at home". The US sought close cooperation with the countries of the Pacific region on the grounds of trade and jobs as well as security issues. Close coordination between all Pacific states is also necessary on the issue of energy security and climate protection. The strategic alliances of the USA with Japan, South Korea, Australia and Thailand as well as the Philippines are not "historical documents", but fundamental to the common security.

The meeting of the APEC countries takes place in Singapore

Obama also addressed global climate change. The UN climate conference will take place in Copenhagen in December - and, in Obama's words, it must be a success. "I have no illusions that it will be easy," but the way is clear. "All nations must live up to their responsibilities," demanded the president. For industrialized countries like the USA, this also means defining clear targets for reducing greenhouse gases. The good news is that the fight against global warming will fuel the creativity of scientists, new businesses and entire industries.

While Obama is talking about it, others are taking action: Brazil wants to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Environment Minister Carlos Minc announced in Sao Paulo that by 2020 the largest economy in Latin America would voluntarily reduce CO2 emissions by almost 40 percent compared to 1990 levels. The reduction in climate-damaging emissions is primarily to be achieved by clearing less rainforest in the Amazon region.

USA are fighting for leadership

But although one has the feeling that the other nations are shortening the distance to the USA, Obama also insists on wanting to continue to be a superpower. In Tokyo, he emphasized the US's claim to leadership in the world: "Since I took office, I have been working to renew American leadership and to create a new era of responsibility in the world based on common interests and mutual respect."

At the end of his visit to Japan, Obama was received by Emperor Akihito. Both met with Empress Michiko (75) in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo for lunch, as reported by Japanese media. It was the first meeting between Obama and the Japanese monarch couple. Emperor Akihito celebrated the 20th anniversary of his accession to the throne on Thursday.

Obama welcomes Japan's Emperor Akihito and his wife Michiko

Author: Marcus Bölz (with dpa, AFP)

Editor: Martin Schrader