Page last updated at 10:57 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Obama in Asia: Views from the region

As US President Barack Obama's tour in Asia comes to an end, the BBC asks people in the region what the visit has achieved.


Judith Wang, a reporter from Shanghai, thinks the visit has been good for the two countries and the world.

Judith Wang

Obama's visit to China has been very prominent in foreign media because this is the important dialogue between the world's largest developed country and the world's largest developing country.

I think his visit showed that the US could not ignore the rising of China as a strong power and he made it clear to everyone in the world that the relations between the two countries are important.

The US expects China, the world's second energy-consuming country, to play a leading role in climate change and the protection of the environment. It was a warm-up for the Copenhagen conference next month, I think.

Liu Zhi, a student from Sichuan, senses a change in US-Chinese relations

Liu Zhi

The visit was constructive. There will definitely be a change in the US policy towards China and that's great because there's always a long way between the two countries.

The agreement the two countries reached to work together on global issues shows that America's international standing is declining. And of course, the agreement is important to China, because China is a developing country and harmonious international circumstances are good for our development.

The US must realise that we need to cooperate, show mutual respect and not intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. So from now on I expect China-US relations to be more equal and China to become stronger and stronger.

Obama is a good orator, but what he said is just nice words, without much meaning. I don't think he is that popular in China, he is just another US leader. I think he is artificial, even worse than Bush.

Fei Gao, a doctor in Beijing, is hopeful that the visit will be a new beginning for China-US relations

Fei Gao

Obama's speech was as passionate, intriguing and convincing as always. As a Chinese, I confess this is hard to find among Chinese politicians.

But I think China is no longer an authoritarian country; we are satisfied with our current policy, we do enjoy human rights and freedoms to a certain degree and although things are not perfect, at least we are moving in the right direction.

If you have a computer in China, you can get any information you need from every corner of the world. You can stand in the middle between Eastern and Western media, and make your own judgement.

I am a big fan of Obama. I have heard most of his public speeches from the time when he was running for election. Every time when I listened to it, it gave me strength and lit the hope for a better future, which was urgently needed in the setting of global economic instability.

But, similar to the US, here in China, Obama is popular mostly among the young generations. My parents do not like him. They still regard him as a political leader of capitalistic country who is not much different from his predecessors, no matter what he says.

But for me he has shown a good will and the visit is a good beginning for a better Sino-US relationship.


Yoshihiro Kanemitsu, a student living in Tokyo, expects more from the partnership between the US and Japan

Yoshihiro Kanemitsu

I had the privilege to attend Obama's speech last Saturday in Tokyo. Throughout the speech, I clearly felt that he was trying to ease the Japanese fear that the US-Japan relationship is no longer as important as it used to be.

He used the word "partnership" many times. I believe that he is a man who translates his words into action.

Obama was trying to dress the current US-Japan relationship in nice words. In reality, however, the two countries have been accumulating problems such as the relocation of the US military bases in Okinawa and our prime minister's plan to form an EU-like East Asian community.

The US president appeared to avoid these contentious issues. In my opinion, however, if he believes that the relationship between the two nations is mature enough, he should have brought up these hotly debated issues without hesitation.

I wanted to hear him speak more on the conflicts and the seeds of distrust between our countries. I believe the US and Japan should feel more free to openly criticise each other - I believe this is the kind of partnership our nations should have.

Masahiro Mochii, another student from Tokyo, observes that Obama's visit has increased his popularity in the country

Masahiro Mochii

I thought that Obama's visit to Japan was going to be more of a courtesy than a discussion on important issues, like the US base relocation.

But when I saw him talking to our leaders, I felt somewhat envious of Americans for having him as a leader. I hope that his personal charisma and politeness will influence younger Asians in the way they think about leadership.

The US-Japan alliance has a fundamental importance to the region and it is certainly good to deepen this alliance and turn it into a cornerstone for freedom and prosperity in Asia.

Mr Obama has been an inspiring figure for young people here since his election. Students in international relations idolise him. His Prague speech has been continuously broadcast in Japan and the Nobel Peace Prize gave him further admiration from most Japanese.

His popularity in Japan certainly increased during his visit. He was very elegant when he met our emperor and his eloquence certainly reinforced his image of a great statesman.


Lee Kyong Kun, a teacher in Seoul, is hopeful for a breakthrough on the North Korean issue

Lee Kyong Kun

I think Mr Obama's visit will be a great help and will have a fresh impact on our nation in many ways.

Obama is not a person of extreme solutions, like some of his predecessors. He has a balanced approach, which will get him everywhere.

He is extremely smart. He always leaves space for the other side, he leaves the door open, he is not just pushing towards the outcome he desires. But at the same time he has a firm position.

This can be seen in his attitude towards China, Iran and North Korea. I am very hopeful that Mr Obama will manage to engage the North Korean leaders and bring them to the negotiating table. He didn't hurt the feelings of North Korean people, he gave them options.

When he was elected there was a bit of uncertainty in South Korea about what his position will be when it comes to our country. Usually the Conservative Party are more favourable towards us.

But actually he has managed to attract support from many groups. He is not just a leader who takes care of one group of people, he is open towards everybody.


Ivan Yeo, a student in Singapore, says that Obama's visit has reinforced the message that the US is back in the region

Ivan Yeo

I expect President Obama to make it clear that the US views Asia as an important region, vital to American interests. President Obama should also send a clear message that the US is back. It is back to re-engage the region, that he would no longer ignore the region the way his predecessors did.

The visit by Obama to the region is more symbolic than it is substantial. I don't think anything concrete has come out, other than Obama reinforcing the message that the US would reassert its influence in light of China's growing clout.

Asia is an important region, vital to American interests. I think the US and Singapore are enjoying a great relationship and I believe that is the way forward.

Export-dependent Singapore needs the US and its market for its economic growth. Singapore should also make more contributions to help the US in Afghanistan by sending more soldiers to help train the Afghan military. This would help boost ties between the US and Singapore.

President Obama is still as popular in Singapore as a year ago. Here in Singapore, we very much appreciate his new policies - his efforts to close down the Guantanamo facility, ending the war in Iraq, engaging Burma to move towards democracy.

So, when I heard that President Obama has arrived in Singapore, I was very excited and happy, just like my fellow citizens.

Print Sponsor

Trade talks end Obama China trip
18 Nov 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Obama affirms commitment to Asia
14 Nov 09 |  Asia-Pacific
North Korea a problem for Obama
06 Apr 09 |  Asia-Pacific
'US envoy to N Korea' after clash
11 Nov 09 |  Asia-Pacific

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific