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How do SE Asian countries view US returning to Asia?

By Ding Gang, Sun Guangyong, Ji Peijuan, Yu Jinghao, Wang Hui, Han Shuo and Liu Hui (People's Daily)

09:50, December 15, 2012

1.The main purpose of the United States' strategy of returning to Asia and the significance of Barack Obama's visits to three Southeast Asian countries in promotion of the strategy

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan: With the increasing significance of East Asian region in the global political and economic pattern, more and more external countries and economies including the United States and European Union began to intervene in the region and strengthen their relations with the countries in the region. It is also a natural thing that the United States strengthens its relations with ASEAN countries.

Deputy director of Kasikorn Research Center Pimonwan: Some data can be used to explain the purposes of the United States to return to Asia. According to survey of Kasikorn Research Center, although the United States is still an important trading partner of Thailand, the amount of Thailand exports to the United States has decreased from 20 percent over the past 20 years to current 10 percent and the United States is no longer the largest export market of Thailand. Such changes also appeared in other ASEAN countries.

The United States had been being the largest export market of ASEAN countries for 20 years, but now the amount of exports of ASEAN countries to the United States has reduced to 7.5 percent from the original 20 percent.

At the same time, the importance of Chinese market in Thailand and ASEAN countries is rising and China has become the largest export market and second largest import market of Thailand, with the amount of Thailand exports to China accounting for 20 percent of its total exports.

Therefore, the United States hopes to deepen its relations with countries in the region by "Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP)," which is another important factor for the United States to return to Asia.

Executive director of Cambodia Development Resource Institute Larry Strange: The United States has realized that Asia-Pacific region is a booming area in the world economy and Chinese economy has showed a strong growth over the past decade. China is strengthening its geopolitical influence in the region, which is also an important reason for the United States to readjust its strategic focus. Both the United States and China will play important roles in Asia, but the joining of the United States may complicate the economic and security relations in the region.

Khun Razi, director with ASEAN Studies Center under Thammasat University, Thailand: The recent visits of U.S. President Barack Obama to Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia aims to show the outside world that "the United States is there." As Asia still keeps a strong economic vitality despite the downturn of the world economy, the United States must rely more on Asia to resurge its economy. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed the importance of U.S. economy maintaining its dominant role in the world in her recent visit to Singapore.

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