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April 24, 2017

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China state media slams Obama's Asia-Pacific visit as re-election tool

SHANGHAI -- China's state news agency on Wednesday accused U.S. President Barack Obama of trying to win votes by using his diplomatic ambitions in Asia to detract from his country's economic woes.

As the American leader arrived in Australia ahead of a key summit later in the week, Xinhua said the United States had "yet to reassure the region its Asia-Pacific policy would effectively serve regional stability and prosperity."

"Obama, whose job approval rating continues to slip, seems to be staking his re-election on high-profile diplomatic ambitions in Asia Pacific, as he is failing to bring America's slack economy back to the path of strong growth in his first term," it said in a commentary.

The remarks, the second time in three days that China's official media has criticized Obama by name, came hours after he touched down on an official visit to ally Australia.

From there, he will head to the Indonesian island of Bali to attend the annual East Asia Summit, which the United States will join this week — a move some countries in the region have welcomed as a counter to China's growing assertiveness.

The United States will hold presidential elections in November next year and some Republican candidates have used China as a political issue to attack the incumbent Obama, tapping into worries about the rising Asian power.

Xinhua late Monday also blasted Obama for "scapegoating" Beijing for his country's economic woes after he hit out at China's currency, which the United States believe is undervalued, giving it an unfair trade advantage.

The latest commentary called on the United States to concentrate on its own economy and accused Washington of stoking security tensions in Asia and meddling in regional maritime disputes.

"The United States should first put its own economic house in order," it said, adding: "The United States has yet to reassure the region that its Asia-Pacific policy would effectively serve regional stability and prosperity."

While visiting Australia, Obama will update a 60-year-old security alliance with the long-time ally as the U.S. plans to deploy Marines in the country from mid-2012.

China's foreign ministry said Wednesday that sending U.S. troops to northern Australia "may not be quite appropriate," pouring cool water on Obama's description of the move as a commitment to the region.

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