President Obama made his inaugural visit to the sixth East Asia summit underlining the United States returned focus on the Asia Pacific region despite congressional budgetary constraints and cutbacks. This included expanded military presence in northern Australia which has neighbouring countries like Indonesia and China wary. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will make the first official US trip to Myanmar(Burma) in more than 50 years.
Prime Minister Gillard held discussions with Indonesia's president President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono about United States military training hub in Darwin was not targeted any particular country and was there to help with disaster recovery and strengthen longstanding defence ties with the United States through ANZUS which is over 60 years old. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also relayed to Australian Prime Minister Gillard, the defence exercises should involve ASEAN countries and also China to reduce tension and build trust.
The Australian Prime Minister has also held talks with Chinese Premier Wen to reduce concerns about the defence arrangement. She reiterated Australia always will have an ally in Washington and a friend in Beijing.
The United States has stated it supported multilateral talks on a regional basis to ensure disputes in the South China Sea is resolved peacefully even though it is not a party to any territorial dispute and claims to be not taking any sides. China reinforced its view the maritime dispute should be resolved bilaterally with all the countries involved rather than involving external forces which they see as interference and added layer of complexity. China sees the United State bringing the territorial dispute in the summit as a containment policy to counter China's growing economic and political influence within the region. China has continued to emphasize its peaceful rise and endeavors to work with neighbouring countries to reach agreements on maritime disputes.
The concerns of smaller countries about the growing influence of its northern neighbour has allowed the United States to become more involved in the region and coincide with some of their interests to counterbalance China. This also has the effect of countries having stronger individual voices to negotiate with China.
President Obama has said he is dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Myanmar in the next few weeks to engage in dialogue about better ties with the United States. The Burmese government is civilian run since March 2011. The United States stressed China was advised of the visit and not replacing Myanmar's strong ties with China. They also stated China would want to see a stable Burma adjacent to its border and reduce risk such as political instability and refugees. China is a longstanding supporter of resource rich Myanmar and has provided financial and investment support. The Burmese government has reacted they will continue on the path of opening up through relaxing political restrictions and releasing political prisoners.
Myanmar has been chosen as host of the ASEAN summit to be held in 2014 despite concerns from human rights groups the reforms are not enough. Other countries have stated granting the chairing of the ASEAN conference will encourage the Myanmar civilian government to continue the pace of change in the country which has been economically and politically isolated by embargo and restrictions.