2014-04-16T175137Z_2_CBREA3F1B5400_RTROPTP_2_OBAMA

Obama looks to salvage Asia 'pivot' as allies fret about China

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a Civil Rights Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act at the LBJ Presidential Library in AustinBy Matt Spetalnick and Manuel Mogato WASHINGTON/MANILA (Reuters) – When a Philippine government ship evaded a Chinese blockade in disputed waters of the South China Sea last month, a U.S. Navy plane swooped in to witness the dramatic encounter. The flyover was a vivid illustration of the expanding significance of one of Asia’s most strategic regions and underscored a message that senior U.S. officials say President Barack Obama will make in Asia next week: The “pivot” of U.S. military and diplomatic assets toward the Asia-Pacific region is real. Washington’s Asian allies, however, appear unconvinced. During Obama’s four-nation tour of Asia that begins on April 23, his toughest challenge will be to reassure skeptical leaders that the United States intends to be more than just a casual observer and instead is genuinely committed to countering an increasingly assertive China in the region.

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