Will Obama do a 'Danny Russel' in Manila?

Posted at 04/21/14 5:28 PM

MANILA - The White House has laid out the schedule of US President Barack Obama in the Philippines, but whether or not he will be more vocal insofar as any warnings against China remains unclear.

In a press briefing at the White House, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Obama’s Asian trip – which will take him to five countries – is an opportunity to “solidify and modernize our alliances and partnerships" as well as "advance our economic agenda…”

She said the United States will remain “a major security partner” for the long term.

Asked if Obama will do a Daniel Russel on warning China, Rice said: “I think you will hear the President say what has been consistently US policy, which is that these disputes need to be resolved, ought to be resolved through peaceful means, not through coercion, not through threats, not through anything other than peaceful diplomatic means based on the rule of law.”

Russel, Obama’s diplomatic point man in East Asia, earlier told a congressional testimony that the US had “growing concerns” that China’s aggression was an effort to control oceans in the Asian region similar to what Russia did over Crimea.

China later slammed Russel’s statements, saying the US seems to be undermining peace efforts in the region.

Rice said Obama’s trip underscores the Asian pivot, as earlier promised.

The White House dubbed the US strategy as the Asian “pivot,” which is meant to refocus America’s policies towards Asia away from the costly wars of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Growth in the region

Rice said that “nearly half of all growth outside the United States is expected to come from Asia” over the next five years.

“There’s a significant demand for U.S. leadership in that region, and our strategy of rebalancing to Asia includes economic, political, security and cultural interests in Northeast and Southeast Asia. The different components of our strategy will be on display throughout the trip,” she said.

Obama will be arriving in Manila in the morning of April 28. A state dinner will be hosted in the evening by President Benigno Aquino III.

US Press Secretary Jay Carney said the following day, Obama will view a new electronic vehicle called Comet.

“This is one of the principal means of people getting around. There’s a new electric vehicle that’s being supported by a technology maker in the United States, and so he’ll have a chance to review progress on that project,” Carney said.

Obama will then proceed to Fort Bonifacio, where he will talk to US and Filipino service members and veterans “to underscore our deep security cooperation over the years, but also our security cooperation in the current environment in the Asia Pacific as we seek to build out and advance the relationship between our militaries.”

Obama will also have a wreath-laying ceremony at the American Cemetery. He will leave for the US later on that day.