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Asia Times: U.S. 'Pivot' Must Go Beyond Defense

Author: Curtis Chin
June 13, 2013

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"Yet, while Australia, Japan and Southeast Asian nations in particular may quietly welcome strengthened U.S. defense and diplomatic engagement, there are concurrent hopes that the U.S. will prioritize greater business, cultural and educational engagement as part of its "pivot". Such ventures would add substance to the official rhetoric that an economic "pivot" is also underway."

From U.S. marines in the north Australian city of Darwin to the repositioning of American naval forces across the Asia-Pacific region, the so-called U.S. "pivot" continues apace amid growing attention to China's own engagement with the region.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's recent visit to Singapore for his first Shangri-La Dialogue as head of the Pentagon was likely welcomed by many Asian governments and officials worried about China's increasingly assertive posturing and the US's commitment to the region amid ongoing budget battles in Washington.

Building on last year's visit by his predecessor, then-secretary of defense Leon Panetta, Hagel reaffirmed the U.S.'s "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific, though "rebalance" is now the preferred parlance for the policy among US officials. In that direction, the Pentagon continues to shift military troops, ships and aircraft to the region.

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