BEIJING – A major Chinese newspaper hit out at Barack Obama on Tuesday after the US president said Washington was not seeking to counter Beijing’s influence in the Asia-Pacific.
The state-run China Daily wrote in an editorial that Obama’s week-long visit to Asia, which concludes Tuesday, made it “increasingly obvious that Washington is taking Beijing as an opponent.”
China’s claims to various islands, reefs and atolls in the South and East China Seas have been a constant theme of Obama’s tour of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The trip has seen a US-Japan joint statement and a new US-Philippines defence agreement, and the paper wrote that while “from Tokyo to Manila, Obama has tried to pick his words so as not to antagonise Beijing”, his journey was “essentially about Washington’s and its allies’ unease about a rising China”.
At a joint news conference with Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Monday, Obama said that while Washington did not take a position on the sovereignty of disputed territories, such issues must be addressed peacefully, not with “intimidation or coercion”.
He also said that Washington has “a constructive relationship with China” and has no desire to contain or counter Beijing.