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Is Obama risking US relations by canceling Asian tour?

Jewel Samad | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to cancel his scheduled trip to Asia this weekend risks undermining the country's standing with regional allies and trust that he earned during his first term, according to a political analyst.

"If Obama does not go to Asia at all, allies and partners in the region will worry that the United States is incapable of sustaining high-level engagement due to political paralysis at home," Ernest Z. Bower, chair of Southeast Asia studies and co-director of Pacific Partners Initiative at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) wrote in a note.

"(This) will cause hedging behavior by governments worried about U.S. staying power, and may result in more aggressive postures by nations interested in exploring the limits of U.S. determination," he added. On his first post-election foreign trip in 2012, Obama visited Southeast Asia as part of a refocusing of U.S. attention on Asia-Pacific.

Late on Thursday, the President called off a trip to Indonesia and Brunei, after cancelling visits to Malaysia and the Philippines earlier in the week.

(Read more: Barack Obama cancels trip to Asia)

In what was originally a four-nation Asian tour planned to begin this Saturday, the president was scheduled to visit Indonesia to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and then Brunei for the annual meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In a press release the White House said the "cancellation of this trip is another consequence of the House Republicans forcing a shutdown of the government."

The standoff between Democrats and Republicans to pass an emergency funding bill continued with little sign of progress on Thursday, leading to a third day of a partial government shutdown.

(Read more: Obama to Wall Street: This time be worried)

Tony Nash, managing director of IHS Consulting in Asia, disagrees that the cancellation of Obama's visit to Asia will generate concern over his commitment to the region.

"I think political leadership in Asia understands his dedication to the home market - if there was nothing going on at home, the cancellation would be diplomatically awkward. It's understandable."

However, he notes that as political turmoil continues to roil Washington, China, the region's economic powerhouse, is likely to be the main beneficiary.

"The Chinese are really in soft power mode right now - which is really interesting given the timing of his trip and the cancellation of Obama's trip," he said, citing the $28.2 billion in trade and investment deals signed between Chinese and Indonesian companies during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Indonesia this week.

(Read more: Emerging markets thrive amid US shutdown)

Mikio Kumada, Global Strategist with LGT Capital Management, however, believes Southeast Asia is the biggest winner of this situation.

"The way I see it, it's a very good environment for Southeast Asia because everybody is competing for Southeast Asia's favor. It's not only the Chinese but it's the Japanese and the U.S. of course has strategic interests here."

"Based on the principal that competition is a good thing the big winner of this is Southeast Asia, [it's] up to them to make the best out of it but net-net I think it's is a positive situation," he said.

By CNBC's Ansuya Harjani; Follow her on Twitter @Ansuya_H

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