Obama's Asia visit shows that US sees China as 'opponent': State media

A major Chinese newspaper hit out at United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday after the President said Washington was not seeking to counter Beijing's influence in the Asia-Pacific. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
A major Chinese newspaper hit out at United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday after the President said Washington was not seeking to counter Beijing's influence in the Asia-Pacific. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - A major Chinese newspaper hit out at United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday after the 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 Mr Obama's week-long visit to Asia, which concludes on 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 Mr 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, Mr 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.

But the China Daily blasted those words as "hollow" rhetoric, warning that Mr Obama's "sweet promises of a new type of major-country relationship should not blind us to the grim political reality".

"Ganging up with its troublemaking allies, the US is presenting itself as a security threat to China," the paper wrote.

Shortly before Mr Obama's arrival in the Philippines on Monday, Washington and Manila signed a new defence pact that will insert US forces close to the volatile South China Sea.

Days earlier, the US and Japan issued a joint statement explicitly stating that islands at the centre of a dispute with China are covered by the security alliance that obliges Washington to come to Tokyo's aid if attacked.

Beijing responded with fury to both moves, and the China Daily maintained on Tuesday that the "foremost threat" was not China's maritime disputes with Japan and the Philippines but rather "the threatening image of China" that the US and its allies were projecting.