President Obama's Asia trip is over. The Wire already covered the highlights: Obama's controversial bow in Japan, division over the Shanghai town hall, and topics pundits wish had been on the table. Experts have also weighed in on the U.S.-Chinese economic relationship, and the shifting power dynamic seen in Obama's visit. But now it's time to get back to basics: how did Obama do on hitting the many goals outlined before his tour? Preliminary results are in, and a consensus is emerging. Broadly speaking, domestic sources aren't grading him too highly. Here's the breakdown:
- Points for Listening While "Obama's domestic critics and some commentators" have already declared the trip a failure, Chris Buckley cautions that " U.S. summits with China and the rest of Asia have rarely brought instant rewards." He quotes an East Asian security affairs expert as saying that "Just by showing that he'll listen, Obama has won credit that will give the U.S. a boost (in the region)."
- Chinese Admiration In a roundup of local opinion by the BBC, Shanghai reporter Judith Wang gives a largely positive review: "Obama's visit to China has been very prominent in foreign media because this is the important dialogue between the world's largest developed country and the world's largest developing country." Beijing doctor Fei Gao was also impressed: "Obama's speech was as passionate, intriguing and convincing as always. As a Chinese, I confess this is hard to find among Chinese politicians." She thinks "he has shown a good will and the visit is a good beginning for a better Sino-US relationship."
- Some Love from the Locals Obama got a glowing review from two Tokyo students interviewed by the BBC. "I believe that he is a man who translates his words into action," says Yoshihiro Kanemitsu of Obama. That said, he'd like to see more open debate between the U.S. and Japan. "I wanted to hear him speak more on the conflicts and the seeds of distrust between our countries," he says. "I believe the US and Japan should feel more free to openly criticise each other." Masahiro Mochii adds that Obama's popularity in Japan "certainly increased during his visit," and notes his own envy of Americans "for having him as a leader."
- I Think He Might Possibly Avoid a Trade War? Nouriel Roubini hedges his bets with noncommittal analysis, but seems cautiously optimistic. "By spending nine days abroad," he says, even with important domestic debates back ho me, "the president acknowledges the growing importance of the U.S. relationship with a rising Asia." What's important is to avoid a trade war.