What Asia got out of Barack Obama's four-nation tour

US President Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral press conference with the Philippines President Benigno Aquino (not in picture) at Malacanang Palace in Manila, on April 28, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
US President Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral press conference with the Philippines President Benigno Aquino (not in picture) at Malacanang Palace in Manila, on April 28, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

Here's a look at what Asia got out of the visit this week of America's "first Pacific president".

President Barack Obama's tour, that ended on Tuesday, took him to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

GOT

1. Japan mostly got what it wanted - a clear enunciation by the US president that the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands are covered by Article Five of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Co-operation and Security.

In other words, should China attempt to take over the Japanese-controlled islands, US will spring to Japan's side, although Washington does not take sides in this sovereignty dispute.

2. Japan's second 'get' was that it also won support from the US for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's controversial move to reinterpret the pacifist Constitution to allow Tokyo to exercise "collective self-defence" and come to the aid of an ally under attack.

3. The Philippines was also a gainer, it won assurance of US military support amid Manila's escalating tensions with China over disputed territories in the South China Sea. The US and the Philippines signed a new 10-year Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement that gives US troops wider access to local bases and also lets US ships, planes and other assets be pre-positioned for maritime security.

4. South Korea scored too, when Mr Obama agreed to a binational defence team where South Korean troops would serve under US control in the event of a war with the pugilant and unpredictable North Korea. This was at Seoul's request, it wanted the US to delay the scheduled transfer next year of wartime command to South Korea for the fear that the move might signal a lesser US role and embolden the North.

5. As for Malaysia, it reaped the soft benefit of prestige from the pageantry that accompanies a US presidential visit. The stop in Kuala Lumpur was largely symbolic, with Mr Obama becoming the first US president to visit the country in nearly 50 years.

NOT

1. The biggest miss of all was for Washington, as it turned out. Mr Obama failed to get Japan and Malaysia to commit to the US-driven Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. Meant to promote trade across 12 Asia-Pacific nations, the TPP does not include China.

2. Talks for better intelligence-sharing between Japan, South Korea and the US made no headway. Hardly surprising, given the simmering tensions between Japan and South Korea over a range of unaddressed historical issues, including 'comfort women'.

3. Likewise, talks on a regional missile defence system came a cropper.

4. China was not amused. Much as Mr Obama insisted that his visit was not about countering China, Beijing concerns deepened as US pledged protection for Japan and the Philippines. Mr Obama's actions were denounced in Chinese media which called them proof that the US viewed China as an opponent. The new model of "great power relationship" that both China's President Xi Jinping and President Obama have touted remains - as has been said - as hazy as Beijing's air.