What happened while Obama was in Asia? (+video)
President Obama's whirlwind Asia trip saw some surface compromise on disputed territorial issues, and the set up of a new Asian trade bloc.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia
US President Obama heads back to Washington from Cambodia, after meeting leaders from southeast Asia, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea, to discuss political and economic issues in a region now seen as the fulcrum of global economic growth.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Troubled waters: disputes in the China Seas
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Territorial wrangles over the South China Sea, much of which is claimed by China as well as a number of other smaller countries, dominated the summit of Asian leaders. Territorial tensions between China and Japan were also closely watched at the summit. Obama's first foreign trip after his reelection saw some surface compromise on the issues, while a new trade bloc looks set to form without the participation of the US.
With China's Wen Jiabao soon to step down as prime minister, the summit likely marked the last official meeting between Wen and Obama. And both world leaders sought to avoid a direct confrontation.
“The US and China do not appear willing to risk superpower tension at this time over the resource-rich areas around the contested islets and shoals,” says Thitinan Pongsudhirak, head of the Institute of Security and International Studies in Bangkok.
"It is very important that as two of the largest economies in the world, that we work to establish clear rules of the road internationally for trade and investment, which can increase prosperity and global growth," said Obama after meeting China's Wen.
Obama and China play nice?
With a focus on economics, the US appeared to hold a noncommittal line on security issues during the talks, though it has spoken strongly on the South China Sea in the past, citing the need for dialogue while negotiating with Vietnam and the Philippines about supplying military hardware.