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China

As Obama prepares for overseas trip, Asia seeks his assurance in territorial spats

As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that's warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China.Each of the four countries on Obama's itinerary -- Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines -- has a dispute with Beijing over islands in the South and East China Seas. Their leaders will be weighing Obama's willingness to support them if those conflicts boil over."What we can say after seeing what happened to Ukraine is that using force to change the status quo is not acceptable," said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is in one of the fiercest disputes with China.Administration officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have taken a tougher line on the territorial issues in recent weeks, sternly warning China against the use of military force and noting that the U.S. has treaty obligations to defend Japan in particular. But in an attempt to maintain good rel...

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