U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a ceremony celebrating graduating seniors of the White House Leadership and Mentorship Program at the White House in Washington June 15, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

(From Reuters)

By Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom

In his State of the Union address in January, President Barack Obama left little doubt that his pursuit of a landmark Asia-Pacific trade pact was aimed at countering Beijing’s rising influence in the region. “China wants to write the rules … Why would we let that happen?” he asked.

Obama now has the response he did not want: A congressional rebuff to his legacy-defining trade agenda has dealt a humiliating blow – at least for now – to his effort to reassure Asian allies of U.S. engagement, and could allow China to expand its clout at Washington’s expense.

The vote on Friday to sidetrack a bill vital to Obama’s proposed 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) threatens to derail the economic centerpiece of Obama’s vaunted “Asia pivot,” widely seen as intended to face down the growing competitive threat from China.

At a time of heightened tensions over Beijing’s increased assertiveness in the South ChinaSea and its expanding economic influence across the Pacific Rim, the setback has already added to regional allies’ doubts over U.S. leadership. Read more

Leave a comment