President Obama believes that his "pivot" to Asia is institutionalized and that, despite Americans' anxieties about globalization, succeeding presidents will remain engaged in the region.
"There's no question that a lot of Americans on both the right and the left are expressing some fears and frustrations about the dislocations brought on by globalization," Obama told the Straits Times ahead of Tuesday's state visit from Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
"Many of those frustrations are legitimate and they need to be addressed," he stated. "But in an interconnected world, I remain convinced that the best way to manage these dislocations and to ensure our security and prosperity is to engage more deeply with countries around the world, not less — especially in the Asia Pacific."
During Obama's presidency, the U.S. joined the East Asia Summit. He has regularly attended both it and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' annual leadership summits. He hosted a U.S.-ASEAN leaders' meeting in California and has visited almost every country in the region.
"I'm confident that America's foreign policy rebalance to the region will endure beyond my presidency because it's in the national interest of the United States," Obama said. "The United States has been a Pacific nation for over two centuries. That's not going to change. That reality transcends election cycles. And just as our past has been integrally linked to the region, so, too, is our future.
"The Asia Pacific is home to nearly half the world's population, a growing middle class and holds so much opportunity for us all," he continued. "It's no wonder that America's engagement in the region has strong, sustained, bipartisan support. So I'll be handing my successor a strong foundation — including closer ties with Singapore — on which to continue building; and I'm optimistic that will happen."
Obama described Singapore as an "anchor" for the U.S.'s regional presence.
"Both our nations are committed to building a regional order where all nations play by the same rules and disputes are resolved peacefully and this visit will be an opportunity to continue deepening our cooperation on behalf of regional stability and prosperity," Obama said.
Lee's trip is the first state visit for a Singaporean leader since 1985.