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Mar 26th
Home Sections Politics President Obama Assures President Aquino U.S. Is a Pacific Power
President Obama Assures President Aquino U.S. Is a Pacific Power PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Politics
Sunday, 10 June 2012 15:55



(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)


W ithout mentioning China by name, President Barack Obama assured visiting President Benigno Aquino III  Friday (June 8) that the United States will “continue to consult closely together, to engage in training together, work on a range of regional issues together,” reminding “everybody that, in fact, the United States considers itself, and is, a Pacific power.”


In a three-minute remark after the two leaders emerged from less than-an-hour bilateral talks on economic, security and military issues at the Oval Office of the White House, Mr. Obama said that, “Throughout all these exchanges and all the work that we've done I've always found President Aquino to be a thoughtful and very helpful partner. 

“And I think that as a consequence of the meeting today in which we discussed not only military and economic issues, but also regional issues -- for example, trying to make sure that we have a strong set of international norms and rules governing maritime disputes in the region -- that I'm very confident that we're going to see continued friendship and strong cooperation between our two countries.”


For his part, President Aquino thanked President Obama “for all the support that the U.S. has given us in our quest to really transform our society.  Ours is a shared history, shared values, and that's why America is just one of two that we have strategic partnerships with.”


Mr. Obama also congratulated Mr. Aquino “for the work that he's done on the Open Government Partnership that is consistent with his campaign to root out corruption that can facilitate greater economic development within the Philippines.”


Mr. Aquino described their bilateral meeting as having “deepened and strengthened a very long relationship we have, especially as we face the challenges that are before both our countries in the current situation.”




P resident Aquino added the United States’s expression of support has “led to the resolution of situations within our territory.”


President Obama recalled, “I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him (Mr. Aquino), most recently during my Asia trip, when we met most recently in Bali.
“And at that time, we discussed how important the U.S.-Philippine relationship was, the historic ties, the 60 years of a mutual defense treaty, the extraordinary links between Filipino-Americans that have brought our two countries so closely together.”


It was their fourth meeting but the first to be held in the White House. Mr. Aquino has been in the U.S. three times during his term of office.

Mr. Obama added, “We pledged to work on a whole host of issues that would continue to strengthen and deepen the relationship for the 21st century. We talked about how we could work on security issues, on economic issues, on people-to-people exchanges, and on a whole host of regional issues.  And I just want to thank President Aquino for his excellent cooperation, because we've made a great deal of progress since that time.


“On economic issues, the Philippines is the recipient of a Millennium Challenge grant ($434-million) that is helping to foster greater development and opportunity within the Philippines.  We have a partnership for growth that is working on how we can make sure that we are structuring a relationship of expanding trade and commerce between our two countries. 




W hite House reporter Ledyard King of Gannett Washington Bureau, one of the pooled reporters, for the Aquino visit, said, “The two leaders discussed issues of mutual strategic and economic interest in the Asia-Pacific region. They also talked about ways they could cooperate more.” Mr. Obama was dressed in dark blue suit, light blue shirt, blue power tie while Mr. Aquino black suit, bright yellow tie.


But another White House pooled reporter, Ching-Yi Chang, correspondent to Hong Kong Phoenix Satellite TV, which claims to have 300-million viewers worldwide, was gloating when she informed other White House reporters that, “As many originally expected, China would sure be one of the topics during the bilateral meeting between President Obama and President Aquino. But the word “China” didn’t even come up during the pool spray at the bottom.


“During Mr. Obama’s three-minute remark, he carefully (did) not to (sic) mention China, even when he actually talked about South “China” Sea. He said, “We are trying to make sure that we have a strong set of rules and norms governing maritime disputes ‘in the region’.”  



“M r. Obama avoided to mention “the region” as

South China Sea. And Mr. Aquino gave a shorter than one-minute remark without mentioning China or the sea either.

“In reality, other than Vietnam, for hundreds of years, China and the Southeast Asia countries, including Philippines, call the sea as “South China Sea”. Nowadays, Chinese more often refers it as “South Sea” (Nan Hai in Mandarin).

“Until very last year, amid the intensified tension between Philippines with China, Philippines starts to call the sea as “West Philippine Sea”.

”Chinese media put great attention on Mr. Aquino’s first visit to the Oval Office. Although this is his third time in the U.S., his fourth meeting with Mr. Obama, and the second bilateral meeting between two leaders, Mr. Aquino’s first visit to the Oval Office sends out significant signal to Chinese when the two-month standoff between Philippines and China on the sea was just over a few days ago.

“Filipino left the dispute area--Huangyan island (Scarborough Shoal)--while Chinese remains. According to a poll in May by the right-wing newspaper in China, Global Times, 80% of Chinese respondents support military solution to solve the dispute. So when Mr. Aquino visits, the U.S. offering weapons, reopening the military bases, and building an information-sharing network with Philippines could easily be seen as a hostile behavior towards China. That’s likely the reason why the two leaders being careful in the remarks.”


Ching-Yi Chang’s pooled report ended with, “Salamat, (Thanks in Filipino Tagalog)” # # #


Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: (


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