US policy shifts seen in Asia under new president

WASHINGTON, October 5, 2008 (AFP) – US policy in Asia is expected to undergo major shifts, whoever wins the race to the White House.

Both presidential contenders senators Barack Obama and John McCain have new ideas on how to handle a resurgent China, a nuclear-armed North Korea and address the rising Islamic militant threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

They also have fresh strategies to beef up alliances in Asia, engage the region in energy security and maintain US influence despite the severe effects of the current financial turmoil at home.

Incumbent President George W. Bush may have been credited by some experts for pursuing policies that have boosted ties with major powers such as China, India and Japan but the Obama and McCain campaigns feel amends are in order.

“The whole range of relationships are in trouble,” warned Obama’s top Asia advisor Robert Gelbard.

“We have to recognize the real importance of Asia that has developed over the last eight years with a great deal of neglect from this administration,” he said.

Obama is expected to push for China’s entry into the Group of Eight (G8) major powers