Obama arrives in China on 1st stop on Asia tour

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

50 PHOTOS
Barack Obama - Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation - APEC
See Gallery
Obama arrives in China on 1st stop on Asia tour
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, passes by US President Barack Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, passes by US President Barack Obama, left, as Chinese President Xi Jinping smiles, at right, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service)
Leaders pose for a group photo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. Among those pictured are, left to right: Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah; Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neil; Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo; Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; U.S. President Barack Obama; Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott; Chinese President Xi Jinping; Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak; Russian President Vladimir Putin; New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. President Barack Obama talk on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama, center, talk on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service)
Leaders pose for a group photo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. Among those pictured are: Peru's President Ollanta Humala; Chairman of the Taiwan-based Cross-Strait Common Market Foundation Vincent Siew; South Korean President Park Geun-hye; Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha; Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah; Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neil; Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo; Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; U.S. President Barack Obama; Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott; Chinese President Xi Jinpeng; Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak; Russian President Vladimir Putin; New Zealand Prime Minister John Key; Philippine President Benigno Aquino III; Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; Chilean President Michelle Bachelet; Hong Kong Chief Executie Leung Chun-ying; Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto; Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, arrive together as other state leaders waited for them to take a group photo for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, China, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, gestures towards Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, after taking a group photo for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, China, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and U.S. President Barack Obama are seen arriving at the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit plenary session at the International Convention Center, Yanqi, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, second left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, are seen arriving at the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit plenary session at the International Convention Center, Yanqi, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, looks back at U.S. President Barack Obama, left, as they arrive with Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, at the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit plenary session at the International Convention Center, Yanqi, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
From left to right, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, U.S. President Barack Obama and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", arrive at the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit plenary session at the International Convention Center, Yanqi, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing, China. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
US President Barack Obama, (L), Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, (2L), Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2R) and Lee's wife Ho Ching take their positions for the APEC family photo at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, walks past U.S. President Barack Obama, right, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit family photo, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama, second left and Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, arrive together as other state leaders waited for them to take a group photo for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, China, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan (R) looks at Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and U.S. President Barack Obama (L) before a fireworks show after the Welcome Banquet for 2014 APEC leaders at the National Aquatics Center, known as the Water Cube, on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The 22nd APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting will hold on November 11, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and his wife Peng Liyuan as he arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they pose for a photo as he arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) walks with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye (R) after posing for the APEC family photo at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) puts on a shawl for Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan (2nd R) while Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd L) and U.S. President Barack Obama (L) looks them before a fireworks show after the Welcome Banquet for 2014 APEC leaders at the National Aquatics Center, known as the Water Cube, on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The 22nd APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting will hold on November 11, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
China's President Xi Jinping (C) arrives with US President Barack Obama for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital on November 10, 20142014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC are here for the summit from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (2L), US President Barack Obama (2R) and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pose for the APEC family photo at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama is welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping as he arrives for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama is welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping as he arrives for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: US President Barack Obama walks onto the stage with Andrew Liveris, CEO and president of Dow Chemical at the APEC CEO Summit, as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit at the China National Convention Centre (CNCC) on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. APEC economic leaders' meetings and APEC summit is being held at Beijing's outskirt Yanqi Lake. (Photo by Wang Zhao-Pool/Getty Imgaes)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: US President Barack Obama speaks at the APEC CEO Summit, as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit at the China National Convention Centre (CNCC) on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. APEC economic leaders' meetings and APEC summit is being held at Beijing's outskirt Yanqi Lake. (Photo by Wang Zhao-Pool/Getty Imgaes)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. Obama is in China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Seated at left is U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama, seated center right with members of his delegation, speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", seated center left, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. Obama is in China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", seated across the table at left, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. Obama is in China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", speaks during his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing on the sidelines of the APEC Summit. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", left, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. Obama is in China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (2nd L) and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (3rd L) takes part in a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama at a hotel in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo at a hotel in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (2nd R) and US National Security Advisor Susan Rice (3rd R) meet with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (2nd L) and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (L) a bilateral meeting at a hotel in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo at a hotel in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on November 9, 2014. Obama is heading for a week-long trip to China, Myanmar, and Australia. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 9: United States President Barack Obama waves to the press as he prepares to depart the White House in Washington, D.C. en route to Beijing, China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, on November 9, 2014 in Washinton, DC. The APEC 2014 Summit will bring together leaders and senior administration from 21 countries, with U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin expected to attend. (Photo by Ron Sachs - Pool /Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on November 9, 2014. Obama is heading for a week-long trip to China, Myanmar, and Australia. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 9: Marine One, with United States President Barack Obama on board departs the White House in Washington, D.C. en route to Beijing, China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, on November 9, 2014 in Washinton, DC. The APEC 2014 Summit will bring together leaders and senior administration from 21 countries, with U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin expected to attend. (Photo by Ron Sachs - Pool /Getty Images)
Air Force One with U.S. President Barack Obama on board arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
US President Barack Obama waves as he arrives at Beijing's international airport on November 10, 2014. Obama arrived to take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the Beijing Capital International Airport on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC 2014 Summit will bring together leaders and senior administration from 21 countries November 7-11. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama walks down the stairs after disembarking from his plane at Beijing's international airport on November 10, 2014 as he arrives to take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama walks down the stairs after disembarking from his plane at Beijing's international airport on November 10, 2014 as he arrives to take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the Beijing Capital International Airport on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC 2014 Summit will bring together leaders and senior administration from 21 countries November 7-11. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) speaks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R)after Obama arrived at Beijing's international airport on November 10, 2014. Obama arrived to take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the Beijing Capital International Airport on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC 2014 Summit will bring together leaders and senior administration from 21 countries November 7-11. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama walks past members of the military honor guard during his arrival on Air Force One at Beijing Capital International Airport, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. Obama is in China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama walks past a Chinese honor guard as he arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the airport in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

BEIJING (AP) - His influence at home quickly fading, President Barack Obama is looking east to China, the opening stop of a three-country tour that will test his ability to play a commanding role on the world stage during his final two years in office.

Once treated like a global superstar, Obama arrived Monday in Beijing under far different circumstances, with his most powerful days behind him.

At home, Republicans are still rejoicing at having pummeled Obama's political party in the midterm elections, relegating Democrats to the minority in both chambers of Congress. His counterparts in Asia surely have noticed.

Upon his arrival in the Chinese capital, Obama stepped off Air Force One and onto a red carpet, where an honor guard of dozens lined his path. He greeted Chinese officials before being whisked into his waiting limousine.

The president will give a speech Monday about U.S. ties to Asia at a high-level Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. He'll also join key Asian leaders for dinner before taking in a performance and fireworks at the Beijing National Aquatics Center. During his three days in China, Obama will also meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The leaders of the world's two largest economies will address reporters before the state visit draws to a close Wednesday and Obama flies to Myanmar.

The trip marks one of Obama's final opportunities to deliver on his goal to amplify U.S. influence in Asia. In China, Myanmar and Australia, leaders will be rendering judgment on whether Obama's lofty ambitions in Asia-Pacific have been sidetracked by festering crises in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

"This is going to be a tough trip for the president," said Ernest Bower, an Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He said Asian leaders were viewing Obama's trip with a key question in mind: Who is Barack Obama after the midterm elections?

"They'll be trying to discern whether he has the commitment and political capital to follow through," Bower said.

Even before the election, Obama's commitment to the region and his ability to boost U.S. clout there was in doubt in many capitals.

U.S. allies such as Japan and South Korea have pressed for a greater American presence, partly to counter China's growing influence. Yet Obama's mission against the Islamic State group and his government's Ebola response have diverted U.S. military and financial resources elsewhere.

"The president remains deeply committed to his Asia rebalancing strategy, and its implementation will remain a top priority throughout the second term," said Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice.

U.S. presidents often immerse themselves in foreign affairs during their last years in office, when the focus on the next presidential race saps the energy from their own domestic efforts. In the wake of last week's elections, White House officials spoke optimistically about Obama's prospects for clinching trade deals in Asia and elsewhere now that Republicans are set to control Congress.

Under Obama, U.S. trade negotiators for years have been pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade pact being negotiated with 11 nations. The talks have repeatedly blown past their deadlines, and other nations have been wary about Obama's ability to push an eventual deal through Congress, where Democrats have been sensitive to the concerns of labor unions.

But with Republicans in charge, Obama's prospects may have improved, so the argument goes. Republicans tend to support trade deals as a way to boost the U.S. economy, and GOP leaders have spoken positively about giving Obama so-called "fast track" approval that would subject the final deal to an up-or-down vote, preventing last-minute amendments that could sink the whole deal.

China's not part of the talks, and is pursuing its own free trade deals in the region. What's more, Chinese leaders have viewed Obama's focus on Asia with suspicion, fearing an attempt to contain China's growth and influence in the region.

In a sign of the political climate facing Obama in China, state-run media have been mocking him in the days before his visit.

"Obama always utters 'Yes, we can,' which led to the high expectations people had for him," read an editorial in the English-language Global Times. "But he has done an insipid job, offering nearly nothing to his supporters. U.S. society has grown tired of his banality."

Another reminder of the tensions in the region came hours before Obama left on Saturday when North Korea released two American detainees after Obama's spy chief made a secret mission to Pyongyang to secure their release.

In his meetings with Xi, Obama also plans to address human rights issues, officials said, including the treatment of journalists as well as pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong that erupted in September to the dismay of Chinese officials. Climate change - a key concern in smog-filled Beijing - and China's aggressive behavior toward its neighbors are also on Obama's agenda.

Douglas Paal, who headed Asia policy under President George W. Bush at the National Security Council, said Chinese leaders have signaled that this visit will determine whether to keep working with Obama or just wait him out.

"If he comes in and tries to be tough with them, they'll see that as putting a period on cooperation with Obama," said Paal. He added, "They see Hillary Clinton coming."

More from AOL.com:
Massachusetts town weighs nation's 1st tobacco ban
Mexican president condemns violent protests after attack on palace
Balloons symbolize fall of Berlin Wall

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners