Monday, September 26, 2016

Japan Scrambles Jets in Response to China’s Military Air Drills Near Okinawa

Over 40 of China’s H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighter jets and air tankers flew through Japanese islands on Sunday while heading to large-scale military drills in the Western Pacific.


Warplanes of the People's Liberation Army conducted long range drills after flying over the Miyako Strait that lies between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa, the Chinese Air Force said in a statement. The jets carried out early warning, sudden assault and aerial refueling exercises, which all aimed to check the forces’ blue-water combat capabilities, according to the Chinese military. 

As the first group of eight Chinese aircraft, ­including two fighters, flew over the Miyako strait on the Sunday morning, Japan scrambled fighter jets in response, Kyodo news agency reported citing the country’s defense ministry. The Miyako Strait sits tightly between Japan’s Okinawa and Miyako Islands, and is one of the few routes that China can use to get into the Pacific. Beijing has been using the strait since May 2015. 

Okinawan forest being carved out for U.S. military helipads

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
September 25, 2016 at 15:00 JST


HIGASHI, Okinawa Prefecture--Large patches of forest have been cleared for the controversial construction of helipads to be used by the U.S. military, in an aerial look at the progression of the project.
An aerial video and photograph taken by The Asahi Shimbun on Sept. 23 over the Northern Training Area, a U.S. Marines jungle warfare training facility, showed circles of land being cleared in the Takae area of Higashi. The Northern Training Area extends from Higashi to neighboring Kunigami village and is the largest U.S. military facility in Okinawa Prefecture.
Under the construction plan, land with a diameter of 75 meters will be cleared to build the helipads, which will have diameters of 45 meters.

Government, Okinawa remain apart over U.S. air base issue

NAHA (Jiji Press) — Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga held their first meeting on Saturday, and they failed to narrow differences over a planned U.S. military base in the prefecture.

During the 40-minute meeting in the prefectural government office in Naha, Onaga requested in writing that the central government abandon the plan to build a facility in the Henoko coastal area of Nago that will take over the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air base in Ginowan, another Okinawa city.
Inada, who took office last month, said the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is committed to the base relocation plan.
Onaga noted that the prefectural government has appealed a recent high court ruling against his revocation of his predecessor’s permission for land reclamation in Henoko.

7,000 servicemembers make landfall

As the Valiant Shield 2016 military training exercises came to a close, businesses have opened their doors to the approximately 7,000 sailors and Marines who have been granted shore leave.
According to a press release from the U.S. Naval Base Guam public affairs office, elements of the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group arrived in Apra Harbor on Saturday for a goodwill port visit following the conclusion of Valiant Shield. The release stated that an additional six ships from the strike group pulled into port and unloaded approximately 7,000 sailors.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Okinawa appeals high court ruling supporting U.S. base transfer plan

TOKYO —
The Okinawa prefectural government on Friday appealed a recent high-court ruling that backed the central government’s move to transfer a key U.S. air base within the southern island prefecture under a plan strongly opposed by local residents.
“The ruling that excessively takes the side of the central government…will leave a serious problem to the future,” Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said in a statement, referring to the first judicial judgment in the intensifying dispute with Tokyo over a plan to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a crowded residential area in Ginowan to the less-populated Henoko coastal area of Nago.
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, meanwhile, made her first visit to Okinawa since assuming that post in early August and expressed regret to local municipalities over a U.S. military aircraft crash off Okinawa a day before, which she said had stirred “great concerns” among the citizens there.

Okinawa governor demands Harriers be grounded pending crash probe

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Okinawa’s governor demanded Friday that Marine officials ground all Harrier jets pending an investigation into a Marines’ AV-8B crash into the sea east of the island.
The plane was on a routine training flight when it went down, U.S. military officials said. The pilot ejected safely and was rescued. The cause of the incident is under investigation.
“Although damage to the Okinawa residents has not been reported, it is extremely regrettable, as one aircraft-related accident could result in a serious accident involving human lives and property,” Gov. Takeshi Onaga said in a statement addressed to III Marine Expeditionary Forces commander Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson. 

Okinawa gov't appeals high-court ruling backing US base relocation plans


Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/9/23 14:28:47

The Okinawa prefectural government on Friday lodged an appeal to a ruling made by the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court supporting the central government's controversial moves to relocate a US base within Japan's southernmost prefecture.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga was initially shot down by the high-court ruling made on Sept. 16, which found that Onaga's revocation of a landfill permit last October previously granted by his predecessor was "illegal."

The governor is a staunch advocate of blocking the central government's plans to relocate the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the crowded residential area of Ginowan to the less populated coastal area of Nago in Henoko, also on the island.

Air Forces Investigates Death of Airman on Guam

An airman was found unresponsive Friday at San Luis Beach, Guam, and later pronounced dead at Naval Hospital Guam, according to an Air Force release.
The active-duty airman, unidentified pending next-of-kin notification, was temporarily assigned to Andersen Air Force Base, the release said. San Luis Beach is located on the U.S. naval station on the island.
The Air Force said the airman's death is under investigation.

Thousands to arrive as Valiant Shield closes

[Lock your doors!]  About 6,500 military service members are expected on island for shore leave as several U.S. Navy ships make their way to port following the Valiant Shield 2016 exercises.
The biennial event concluded yesterday, marking an end to two weeks of collaborative exercises between U.S. military forces. One scenario highlighted by military officials was the live-fire sink exercise, in which sailors, airmen and Marines sank the decommissioned USS Rentz about 220 nautical miles northeast of Guam.

NoKor military threatens to use nuclear weapons against Seoul, Guam US base

The North Korean military has threatened to use their nuclear weapons against the South Korean capital of Seoul and a US military base located at the Pacific island of Guam, media reported Friday.

On Wednesday, the US Pacific Command (PACOM) reported that a US B-1B strategic bomber flew from the military base located in Guam and landed at the Osan airbase in South Korea for the first time since 1996.

The US military reported that the move aimed to show the US’ readiness to “defend and to preserve the security of the Korean Peninsula and the region”.

NKorea offered close look at deadly US bomber

World Bulletin / News Desk
A nuclear-capable American B-1B bomber flew closer to North Korea than ever before this week, according to the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) on Thursday.
An online USPACOM post described Wednesday’s flight close to the inter-Korean border as “just the first of many steps that forces of the United States and [South Korea] are taking to bolster the ironclad alliance between our nations.”
U.S. Forces Korea already announced that one of its B-1B bombers stationed in Guam would be based for the time being in the South -- where nearly 30,000 American troops are also deployed.

Inada seeks support from Okinawa governor over U.S. base relocation

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Saturday sought support from Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga over a plan to relocate a U.S. air base within the island prefecture, even as the dispute between Tokyo and Okinawa over the issue is set to be contested in the Supreme Court.
“Moving the base to the Henoko area is the policy of Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe’s government,” Inada told Onaga in the prefectural capital Naha, referring to the site where the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is scheduled to be relocated despite intense opposition from Onaga and many locals. 

India, US plan to upgrade their already intensive military combat exercises

NEW DELHI: India and the US are planning to go in for a major upgrade of their bilateral combat exercises after inking the military logistics pact+ last month in tune with their "joint strategic vision" for the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region.



Defence ministry sources say the aim is to "further increase the scope and complexity" of bilateral military exercises and engagements "across the board", which will now be facilitated by the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) inked during defence minister Manohar Parrikar's visit to the US on August 29-30.

Opinion - "Tense Times in Asia-Pacific: Will the region's problems further draw in Guam?"

Richard Smart, Guam Daily Post

The Asia-Pacific region is as tense as it has been in decades. In many ways – some positive and some negative - the placid island of Guam seems ever likely to become further engaged in the conflicts escalating nearby.
The rise of China, a belligerent North Korea, a new president in the Philippines and joint military exercises by Russia and China on one side, and the U.S. and its many allies in the region on the other, have created an atmosphere in which the risk of an incident triggering a domino effect feels real. 
Guam, which has been referred to as “the tip of the spear” by the Pentagon, finds itself in a unique position in such circumstances. As a U.S. territory, it is afforded protection. But closer to Asia than the U.S. mainland, and within reaching distance of North Korean and Chinese missiles, tensions could actualize into direct conflict here first.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Military exercises at W-517 (Guam)

Posted on Sep 23 2016

Tag: 
The CNMI EOC Warning Point in conjunction with U.S. Naval Forces Marianas (N3) Guam, would like to inform the general public that the U.S. military unit will be conducting military exercises at Warning Area-517 Irregular Poly-Gon South of Guam on Sept. 27 and 28 from 12pm to 6pm on both dates.
The general location of this activity will be at W-517 Irregular Poly-Gon South of Guam comprising southwest into international waters.
Due to the danger imposed by these activities, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is strongly advising the general public especially fishermen, commercial pilots and marine tour operators to stay away from these areas during the time and dates indicated.

Plaintiffs’ groups for lawsuits over noise pollution from military bases in Japan condemn government’s attack against helipad protest in Takae


September 18, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
The National Liaison Council of seven groups of plaintiffs filing lawsuits over noise pollution from military bases held its 4th general meeting on September 18 at Akisihima City Hall in Tokyo.
The council adopted a resolution to oppose military bases’ violation of human rights, peace and democracy. The resolution claimed residents who were protesting against construction of U.S. helipads in the Northern Training Area in Takae, Higashi, were attacked violently by the government.
The resolution, referring to the government deploying more than 500 riot police and blocking a prefectural road, condemned the hardline response as ” an act of violence”. It claimed the government was acting under martial law without providing any legal basis for their action.

US base issues cast doubt on World Natural Heritage Site designation for Yambaru National Park woodlands


September 15, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
The meeting of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that was held in Hawaii at the beginning of the month focused on the issue of invasive species. During the meeting the IUCN adopted a recommendation on protecting Okinawa Island against invasive species. The recommendation suggests that hauling soil to the planned site for construction of a base at Henoko should be halted, due to the concern that invasive species may be within the soil used for land reclamation work.
Yambaru National Park will soon be established, the newest following Kerama Shoto National Park, and Ishigaki-Iriomote National Park. The Japanese government highly values the ecosystem that supports precious wildlife living and breeding on these islands. As such, Japan is aiming to have the Yambaru woods along with Amami Oshima, Tokuno Island, Iriomote Island designated as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site under the title Amami Ryukyu in 2018. However, the U.S. Northern Training Area is a bizarre environment demonstrating mixed efforts of military exercises and environmental conservationism. NGOs for environmental conservation evaluate with concern that Amami Ryukyu is an unrealistic candidate for a World Natural Heritage Site under the current limits and criteria.

U.S. Aircraft Crashes off Okinawa

U.S. military aircraft AV8B Harrier II has crashed off the Japanese island of Okinawa. The crash of the ground attack fighter jet has prompted fresh concerns over U.S. presence in the southernmost prefecture of Japan.

Okinawa, once under U.S. control, returned to Japanese rule in 1972. The U.S. Army has a controversial military base at Okinawa, from which, according to reports by local media, the military aircraft took off and plunged into the sea shortly afterwards.

N Korean Military Threatens to Use Nuclear Weapons Against Seoul, Guam US Base

08:46 23.09.2016(updated 12:59 23.09.2016) Get short URL

The North Korean military is threatening to use their nuclear weapons against the South Korean capital, Seoul, and a US military base located on the Pacific island of Guam. 

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, the US Pacific Command (PACOM) reported that a US B-1B strategic bomber flew from the military base located in Guam and landed at the Osan airbase in South Korea for the first time since 1996. 

Australian aircraft involved in provocative US-led airstrike in Syria

By Peter Symonds 
22 September 2016
The direct involvement of the Australian air force in air strikes on Syrian troops on Saturday underlines the danger that Australia is being dragged into a US war not simply with the Syrian government but also its allies—Russia in particular. Some 90 Syrian soldiers were killed and more than 100 wounded in a sustained attack on a strategic government position near the Deir ez-Zor airport.
Following the cue from Washington, the Australian government and media have variously suggested that the air strikes were “a botched operation”, a blunder or a mistake. The Defence Department issued a statement acknowledging that Australian aircraft took part, adding that “Australia would never intentionally target a known Syrian military unit or actively support Daesh [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria].” The strikes briefly allowed ISIS fighters to capture Syrian government positions.

Strategic bombers made closest-ever flight to N. Korea: U.S. military

Two U.S. Air Force B-1B strategic bombers this week made the closest-ever flight to North Korea to warn the communist country against any further provocations, the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) said Thursday.

North Korea conducted its fifth underground nuclear test on Sept. 9, despite international condemnations and sanctions imposed after the previous nuke detonation in January. The latest provocation came on the heels of the launch of three ballistic missiles four days earlier.  

One of the two B-1B Lancers landed on Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, after flying over the skies of South Korea on Wednesday. The other returned to Andersen Air Base in Guam the same day. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pushing for an Independent Foreign Policy in the Philippines

Last September 16, hundreds of Filipino activists braved the heat and police lines in marching to =the US Embassy in downtown Manila. The date is special: it marks the 25th anniversary of the Philippine Senate’s junking of an agreement that would have extended the 44-year stay of US military bases in Philippine soil.
For Filipino activists, the date has since become a day for rallies and other activities to denounce and express opposition to US military presence in the country. This year’s protest is special for another reason: for the first time in history, a Philippine president has expressed criticisms of the US, called for the pullout of US special forces from the big island of Mindanao and has vowed to pursue “an independent foreign policy.”

12 Beautiful Islands The U.S. Military Has Tested Weapons On [just a reminder]

The U.S. military plans to practice live fire training at Pagan island in Micronesia, which is home to many plants and animals found no where else in the world. It’s just one of many gorgeous islands where the U.S. has practiced war.

A mighty, floating city


ABOARD THE USS RONALD REAGAN — Saipan reporters and CNMI officials boarded this Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier on Tuesday as part of the U.S. Navy’s embark program.
The aircraft carrier, which has some 5,000 personnel, was taking part in Operation Valiant Shield, a joint exercise of the various branches of the world’s most powerful military force.
The two-week-long biennial exercise started on Sept. 12 and aims to showcase the U.S. military’s maritime and strike capability from the Western Pacific and all the way to the Indian Ocean, according to the USS Ronald Reagan commanding officer, Capt. Buzz Donnelly.

A Complicated History: Japanese Court Blocks Bid to Close Down American Military Base in Okinawa

By  | 
Tensions between residents of Okinawa Prefecture in Japan and stationed American soldiers have reached a new boiling point. Last week court officials in the prefectural capital of Naha rejected incumbent Governor Takeshi Onaga’s bid to close down the disputed Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan. The resolution signified thefirst official judicial ruling over the complex reclamation project that was ignited in 1996 after three American soldiers were convicted of abducting and murdering a 12-year-old girl. Long-time opponents were once again outraged over the recent slaying of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro by former US Marine and current military contractor, Kenneth Franklin Shinzato.
Onaga’s administration teamed up with locals to urge the national government to scrap the foreign airbase altogether, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe followed through on his resolution to relocate the contested encampment into a less populated region of Japan’s southernmost province. Keep reading to learn more about how the Okinawa is struggling to achieve self-autonomy after decades of American military intervention.

Okinawa residents sue state over construction of U.S. helipads

Residents around the construction site of helipads for the U.S. military in Okinawa Prefecture filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the state, seeking to stop the construction due to anticipated noise problems.
Around the Northern Training Area in the villages of Higashi and Kunigami where two helipads have already been built, local residents suffer from noise caused by aircraft, according to the lawsuit filed at the Naha District Court.
Locals insisted additional helipads will worsen the situation.

Okinawa sailor escapes jail time after wrong-way crash that injured three

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — An American sailor whose wrong-way crash in June triggered sweeping travel and alcohol restrictions for servicemembers in Okinawa escaped jail time Tuesday during sentencing in Naha District Court.

Aimee Mejia, 21, a petty officer 2nd class assigned to Navy Munitions Command at Kadena Air Base, received a three-year suspended sentence requiring that she maintain good behavior for four years. The sailor faced a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted under Japanese law, but prosecutors sought only three years.

Mejia pleaded guilty and asked for leniency. It is unclear if she will be leaving the Navy and Japan.

Beach exercise in Tinian canceled due to turtles

A Valiant Shield exercise scheduled for Tinian had to be called off last week due to the discovery of evidence of an endangered turtle species nesting.
"It is an endangered sea turtle," said Bill Kavanagh, the regional and environmental coordinator for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas.
A release issued by the U.S. Marine Corps stated that landings were originally planned for an area called Chulu Beach on the northwest side of Tinian, but were called off because the exercise could coincide with the hatching window of the turtles.

North Korea blames U.S. for nuclear weapons development

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Sept. 20, 2016 at 11:17 AM

 SEOUL, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- North Korea blamed both the Bush and Obama administrations Tuesday for "pushing" Pyongyang toward nuclear weapons development while claiming it now has the capability of striking U.S. territory.
In a statement that ran in the Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, North Korea stated its fifth nuclear test marks the "peak" of its nuclear capability.
"Early this year our republic successfully tested its first hydrogen bomb then spontaneously and in succession took steps to strengthen its nuclear strike capability...this [most recent] test of a nuclear warhead marks the peak of [our] nuclear warhead power," Pyongyang stated.

America's Pacific pivot is sinking



Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte caused shock and sniggers around the world when he called his US counterpart Barack Obama the "son of a whore". But the Duterte comment that will have really hurt the White House came a few days later. Announcing that he was ending joint naval patrols with the US in the South China Sea, Mr Duterte stated: "China is now in power and they have military superiority in the region."
That statement will sting in Washington. Throughout the Obama years, the US has attempted to reassure all its Asian allies that America has both the means and the will to remain the dominant military power in the Asia-Pacific region. President Obama set the tone in a landmark speech in 2011, when he firmly asserted that "the United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay". Since then, America has transferred more of its navy to the region and Mr Obama has regularly made the long journey from Washington to East Asia.
But Mr Duterte has now directly challenged the idea that the US is still the hegemon in the Pacific. If others take his view, power could drain away from Washington, as more countries in the region begin to defer to Beijing.

U.S. Military Flexes Muscles in Asia Pacific



The U.S. is again showcasing it’s strength in the Asia Pacific as 18,000 troops pack up the “Valiant Shield” war games this week. Bloomberg's Stephen Engle hitched a ride out to the flagship aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan in Guam. (Source: Bloomberg)

10:23 AM ChST 
September 20, 2016

Climate Change Catch 22: It’s Official–the U.S. Military Poses a Significant Threat to the U.S. Military



This week, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Climate and Security announced the release of a series of “bipartisan” statements and reports under the banner, Military and National Security Leaders Urge Robust New Course on Climate Change.” The most comprehensive of the newly released documents focuses on the threat that rising sea levels and catastrophic storms pose to U.S. military bases globally.
Compiled by a panel of military luminaries, including Rear Admiral Jonathan White and Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, the report identifies “[d]ealing with” the “risks” that climate change increasingly poses to the “operational effectiveness” of the U.S. military as “a core priority” of the military in the coming years.

Japan to conduct South China Sea patrols with US

By Peter Symonds 
19 September 2016
Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada declared last week that the country’s military would step up its activity in the South China Sea—comments that have already provoked criticism from the state-owned media in China amid rising tensions over the disputed waters.
Speaking in Washington at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Inada said: “Japan on its part will increase its engagement in the South China Sea through, for example, Maritime Self-Defence Force [Japan’s navy] joint training exercises with the US navy, bilateral and multi-lateral exercises with regional navies, as well as providing capacity building assistance for coast nations.”

US Using Okinawa as a Place Where It Can 'Bully People and Expand Profits'

10:31 18.09.2016(updated 11:53 18.09.2016)

A Japanese court has ruled against Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, who canceled his predecessor's decision to relocate a US military base within the prefecture. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Ryan Dawson, a human rights activist, geopolitical analyst and author of "The Separation of Business and State."  

“During the parliamentary elections in July, every single parliamentary seat for Okinawa went to the opposition parties, which are against the base’s expansion. The US and the Tokyo government both said they wanted to relocate the base to a less populated area of Okinawa. The locals say, however, that even if the airbase is relocated, it doesn’t mean that the original base is going to be shut down. This is just an expansion,” Ryan Dawson said.

He added that the people of Okinawa and the governor are obviously against this base expansion, which they see as trampling on their sovereignty. Tokyo, for its part, sees this as compliant with its relations with the Americans.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Does the U.S. military turn Guam into a regional target?

Written by  - Tuesday, 20 September 2016 - http://pacificnewscenter.com/local/10910
Guam - Does the American military presence on Guam make the island safer, or a target for countries like Russia, China and North Korea. These questions will be explored by the independence for Guahan task force at their second general assembly.
The topic was chosen after audience members at the first general assembly [held by the Independence for Guahan Task Force] continually asked about how Guam should handle recent threats from North Korea. Independence for Guahan co-chair Dr. Michael Bevacqua says Thursday’s meeting will focus on Guam’s current security risks or issues. Bevacqua says this conversation will naturally center around Guam’s relationship with North Korea, Russia and China; specifically, if affiliation with the United States and housing U.S. military bases has made those countries Guam’s enemies by proxy. Additionally, Bevacqua says audience members asked about other small, successful independent nations Guam can mirror, if indeed the people choose independence. Task force members point to Singapore, one of the richest nations in the world and has a similar land mass to Guam.

US Bombers from Guam Fly Over South Korea For Second Time Since North’s Nuclear Test

It was intended as a “show of force,” the Air Force said.

 09/21/2016 07:55 am ET | Updated 21 minutes ago

OSAN, SOUTH KOREA ― Two U.S. supersonic bombers flew over South Korea on Wednesday, with one of them landing at an air base 40 km (25 miles) south of the capital, the second such flight since North Korea’s Sept. 9 nuclear test.
U.S. Forces Korea said the flight by a pair of B-1B Lancer strategic bombers based in Guam was a show of force and of U.S. commitment to preserve the security of the peninsula and the region.
The United States, which has about 28,500 troops in South Korea, flew two B-1 bombers on Sept. 13 escorted by U.S. and South Korean fighter jets in a show of solidarity with Seoul.
The North condemned the earlier flight as an armed provocation that mobilized “ill-famed nuclear killing tools”. It did not immediately respond to Wednesday’s flight.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

US taking a confrontational approach in Pacific

An American a writer and retired professor says instead of reconciliation and cooperation with China, the United States is taking a confrontational approach in the Pacific area which could be very harmful for Washington.
James Petras, a professor emeritus of sociology at Binghamton University in New York, and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV while commenting on a report which says the US military has welcomed Japan’s interest in boosting its maritime activities in the disputed South China Sea. 

US imperialist power declines across Asia as Beijing expands

BY MARK THOMPSON

President Barack Obama’s last official visit to Asia in early September highlighted the continuing challenge to Washington’s domination of the Pacific by China’s growing economic and military capacity. This is despite Obama’s “pivot” to Asia to counter Beijing’s influence that has been a central foreign policy initiative of his administration.

Obama visited Hangzhou, China, Sept. 4-5 for the G-20 summit, a meeting of heads of state of the world’s larger industrialized countries. He was in Vientiane, Laos, Sept. 6-8 for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Media reports of Obama’s tour focused on diplomatic rebuffs, including a clash between security officials over Obama’s arrival in Hangzhou and a canceled meeting with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

Obama pushed unsuccessfully at the ASEAN meeting for a sharp declaration opposing Beijing’s expanding claims to islands in the South China Sea.

In a visit to Asia in 2009 Obama called himself “America’s first Pacific president.” He has made 11 trips to Asia during his two terms. “This is where the action’s going to be when it comes to commerce and trade,” he told reporters at the ASEAN meeting.