Obama to head to China, Laos for last visit in his 'rebalance' push

Obama (above) has sought to “rebalance” America’s defence and economic policy to counter China’s rising influence.
Obama (above) has sought to “rebalance” America’s defence and economic policy to counter China’s rising influence.PHOTO: AFP

EDGARTOWN, Massachusetts (REUTERS) - US President Barack Obama next month (Sept) will make what is expected to be his final trip to Asia, a region at the centre of his administration's foreign policy, to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders, the White House said on Thursday (Aug 18).

During his time in the White House, Obama has sought to"rebalance" America's defence and economic policy to counter China's rising influence.

During the trip from Sept 2-9, Obama will attend the Group of 20 summit in Hangzhou, China, where he will also meet privately with Xi, the White House said in a statement.

He also will travel to Laos to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit and East Asia Summit, where leaders have grappled with China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Obama will be the first US president to visit Laos. He will have a bilateral meeting with Laos President Bounnhang Vorachith and attend a town hall with young leaders, the White House said.

The trip will also be a chance for Obama to promote the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, a key part of his Asia strategy that he hopes the US Congress will approve before his term ends on Jan 20.

Trade deals and their impact on US manufacturing jobs have become a hot-button issue in the Nov 8 presidential campaign. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump both oppose the TPP, and congressional approval is uncertain.