The damage of [President Obama's canceled Southeast Asia trip] is not irreparable. At the end of the day, these are just meetings.
I think the question is more one of credibility – that credibility, trust and confidence in the U.S. ability to engage on a sustained basis. That’s a difficult thing to try to recover once that sense of the guarantee that the U.S. will always be there starts to erode.
One can never tell when one bump will be the bump that will really knock you off-kilter. In the grand scheme of things, I think [President Obama's canceled Southeast Asia trip] is a small bump, but it is nevertheless a bump.
The whole objective of the pivot was to try to say that the U.S. views Asia as a really important partner and will continue to devote high-level political attention, but what’s been happening is that there are other demands on [President Obama's] time. From the perception of Asia it raises the question, ‘Maybe they want to, but can they in practice?'
Roughly speaking, 1 billion people have been lifted out of poverty since 1990, in China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and even now in sub-Saharan Africa. In the last decade, we've had the most rapid reduction in poverty in history.
In my view, the U.S. middle class is basically stagnant. There are some people in the U.S. middle class who are doing quite well, and are graduating to become rich. And there are other people who are doing much less well, and they are falling out of the middle class.
The potential buying power of China's middle class is vast. About 247 million Chinese, 18.2% of the population, qualify as middle class, meaning their households spend between $10 and $100 a day on average.