In 2012, the Asia-Pacific increasingly gained geopolitical importance and the trend is likely to continue. Over the last year, the United States strengthened its commitments to the Asia-Pacific. High-profile participation in regional forums included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attendance at the Pacific Islands Forum in August—the highest level U.S. delegation to ever attend the forum. President Obama’s first trip of his new term was to Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia, highlighting the region’s growing significance for his administration. In Cambodia, he attended the East Asia Summit for the first time as an active participant.
The Chinese regime laid claim to the whole of the South China Sea in 2012, plus parts of the East China Sea. Using aggressive tactics, Chinese military leaders created tension and territorial disputes with other claimants in the region, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Japan.
Hundreds of earthquakes were recorded in the region throughout the year. The most recent was in the Yunnan and Guizhou regions of China where 80 people reportedly died, hundreds were injured, and tens of thousands were forced to evacuate. South Korea experienced a deadly typhoon in August, which killed over 80 people. Two typhoons hit the Philippines, the most recent responsible for over 500 deaths, with predictions of worse to come.
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