US President Donald Trump skipped one of Asia's top political summits this week. Instead, Trump sent the Vice President Mike Pence to the ASEAN meet in Singapore. Pence put America's best foot forward, flexing Washington's muscle and making strong statements aimed at regional rival China.>> Empire and aggression have no place in the Indo-Pacific.
>> But in spite of the VP's best efforts to show American support, the absence of his boss didn't go unnoticed by other regional leaders. As Reuters' Raju Gopalakrishnan explains from Singapore.>> Trump's absence has raised eyebrows in the region because it comes at a time when the US is taking a fairly aggressive stance towards China.
Yet it's ceding ground to China at this point because it appears to be showing that it does not see the region as very important.>> The White House did not respond to a request for comment. But the anxieties of regional leaders appear to have been fueled by this year's accelerating trade war between Washington and Beijing, that analysts say might push more Asian countries towards China.
>> When it comes to trade and multilateralism, there's one set of perceptions which seem to, from the region at least, seem to favor China. But when it comes to security there's another set of perceptions. Singapore's Lee actually said that ASEAN does not want to choose between the two super powers, but there may come a time when it has to.
>> That dynamic appears to be playing out in the lead up to another reginal summit that Trump's not attending. That's this weekend's APEC meeting in Papua New Guinea. The Pacific Island nation's another place that's seeing Beijing making friends. Chinese President, Xi Jinping, arriving to a unique official welcome in Port Moresby on Thursday night, to a city that's recently seen everything from six-lane boulevards to a revamped convention center, all built with the helping hand of aid from Beijing.