Blame it on the conservatives in the House of Representatives, but the squabble is hurting the U.S. hard, not only at home, but even abroad.
Advantaged by U.S. absence at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Indonesia, China proposed a 'maritime silk route' connecting it with South East Asia.
"China cannot develop in isolation of the Asia-Pacific and the Asia-Pacific cannot prosper without China," was a terse message which Chinese President Xi Xinping had for countries in the region. Evidently he meant, the region needed Chinese cooperation more than U.S. military backing.
The U.S. blamed the shutdown at home for the last minute cancellation of President Barack Obama's trip to Southeast Asia - a visit that would have included Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei.
Standing in for President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry tried his best to convince regional powers.
"There is nothing that will shake the commitment of the U.S. for the re-balance to Asia which President Obama is leading."
But those were mere words; dwarfed in comparison to what China got on the table.
After having attended the East Asia Summit in both 2011 and 2012, becoming the first U.S. president to do so since the summit was inaugurated in 2005, President Obama was hoping to use this opportunity to provide further thrust to his much-vaunted "Asia pivot" strategy.
In a testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, in July 2013, Michael Auslin, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute explained the challenges which necessitated the "Rebalance to Asia" plan:
"The Asia-Pacific presents a unique challenge to security analysts. On the one hand, there seems little doubt that it has become a more unstable, even more unpredictable, place. The security environment that held throughout the Cold War has been upended in just twenty years, thanks primarily to the unprecedented rise to power of China and the continued threat to stability posed by the totalitarian government of Kim Jong Un, in North Korea. For the past two decades, China has increased its defense budget by double digits every year, and now spends over $100 billion per year, and perhaps several times that amount. In doing so, it has developed modern weapons systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, attack and ballistic missile submarines, advanced fighter jets, and more recently its first aircraft carrier. North Korea, of course, has developed a nuclear weapons program at the same time it has attempted to perfect ballistic missile capability. Pyongyang has violated every norm of international law and conduct, in the face of U.N. sanctions and international opprobrium, attacking its neighbor South Korea twice in 2010 and continuing to test missiles and set off nuclear explosion."
However, despite its intentions, the U.S., in the recent months, has been grappling with issues in the Middle-East, particularly Syria and Iran. It failed to back its strategic "Asia pivot" with complementing increase in aid, military or diplomatic funding. Neither anticipating an aggressive response from China, the U.S. president left his regional allies, high and dry.
At the APEC Summit, the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak summed up the general mood commenting that Obama missed "a golden opportunity" to show regional leadership, reports the Time magazine.
Mr Kerry, in response, did the best he could; make light of the situation.
"In 2004, I worked very, very hard to replace a president [but] this is not what I had in mind," he quipped.
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