While many Chinese may be surprisingly forgiving of the ongoing clusterfuck in Washington DC, US China-watchers should be concerned that the shutdown has caused president Barack Obama to cancel his entire upcoming trip to Asia.
The White House announced earlier this week that Obama would be unable to visit Malaysia and the Philippines because of the shutdown, but had hoped that the president would be able to attend economic summits in Indonesia and Brunei.
“The cancellation of this trip is another consequence of the House Republicans forcing a shutdown of the government,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. “This completely avoidable shutdown is setting back our ability to create jobs through promotion of US exports and advance US leadership and interests in the largest emerging region in the world.”
Secretary of State John Kerry will visit all four countries in the president’s stead.
Though Chinese tourists to the US have been “left at a loss” by the government shutdown, their government may actively benefit from the distraction caused by domestic American political instability, reports the New York Times:
China, with its expansionist impulses, is a clear beneficiary of a distracted United States. It has clashed with Malaysia and the Philippines over claims to rocky outposts in the South China Sea, which the three countries border. On previous visits, Mr. Obama said the United States wanted to resolve these disputes peacefully and keep sea lanes open.
The administration wants to wrap up negotiations on a trade deal by the end of this year, a goal few analysts believe it can achieve. That may be even more elusive if Mr. Obama cannot personally offer his public backing at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, on the Indonesian island of Bali.
[Image credit: @whitehouse]