China high on agenda for Obama’s Asia tour-aide

* Obama to urge China to let currency rise

* Allies see U.S. as regional counterweight to China

* Territorial disputes with China’s neighbors on agenda

By Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON, Nov 2 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama will
press China over currency, trade and human rights on his coming
tour of Asia where allies see Washington as a counterbalance to
Beijing’s rise in the region, the White House said on Tuesday.

Stepping up its rhetoric toward China ahead of Obama’s Nov.
5-14 trip, the White House made clear that even though China is
not on his itinerary, his agenda will keep a sharp focus on
issues that have strained U.S.-Chinese relations.

Jeff Bader, Obama’s top Asia adviser, also said the
president would seek to showcase U.S. re-engagement in Asia to
ease concerns of China’s neighbors about its increasing
assertiveness in the region.

“China’s emergence, China’s rise, is the focus of attention
not only of the United States but among all countries in the
region,” Bader said in an online discussion previewing Obama’s
trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.

“None of them wants to have hostile or adversarial
relations with China. At the same time, none wants to be
dominated by China,” he said.

“The countries in the region all welcome the U.S. presence
as, if you will, kind of a balance as China emerges.”

While Obama’s aides have framed the trip as mostly about
promoting jobs and trade, Bader said U.S. concern about China’s
currency valuation would be raised repeatedly during the tour,
including in one-on-one talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao
on Nov. 11 at a Group of 20 summit in Seoul.

Obama has called on China to allow appreciation of its yuan
currency, which U.S. officials say is kept artificially low,
hurting U.S. jobs and competitiveness. [ID:nLDE6A01RT]

China became a volatile issue ahead of U.S. congressional
elections on Tuesday, which were expected to deliver heavy
losses for Obama’s Democrats. [ID:nUSVOTE]

Washington and Beijing have also clashed this year over
U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and Obama’s February meeting with the
Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

The two countries have also been at loggerheads over the
South China Sea, where China, Taiwan and several Southeast
Asian countries have conflicting territorial claims.
[ID:nN12263681]

TENSE RELATIONS

Relations between China and Japan, Asia’s two largest
economies, became fraught this year over Japan’s 17-day
detention of the captain of a Chinese fishing boat that
collided with Japanese coast guard ships.

“China is obviously very much on the minds of every country
in Asia,” Bader said.

He said Obama was also likely to discuss China’s human
rights record during the trip. Obama, like his predecessor
George W. Bush, has used quiet diplomacy to press Beijing on
this issue, and it appeared unlikely Washington would toughen
its approach significantly.

“The president has been vocal and public about our concerns
about freedom of expression and imprisonment of people for
non-violent acts of political advocacy, so I suspect that issue
will arise,” Bader said.

He said Obama was also likely to express concern to Hu
about Chinese violations of U.S. intellectual property rights,
a long-standing complaint from U.S. software and media firms.

On the diplomatic front, Bader said Washington sees China
as a key partner in U.S.-led efforts to rein in Iran and North
Korea’s nuclear programs. Beijing’s critics have accused it of
working to water down international sanctions that have been
imposed against Tehran and Pyongyang.
(Additional reporting by Caren Bohan, Alister Bull and
Patricia Zengerle; editing by Todd Eastham)

China high on agenda for Obama’s Asia tour-aide