Barack Obama is the first U.S. president to visit Burma. It is part of a trip to Asia meant to reinforce Washington's so-called "Asia pivot" which has raised concerns in Beijing about greater U.S. influence in the region.
"There’s a lot more to be done, and we are not going to miss this moment in terms of our opportunity to push this along and to try to lock in as much reform and lock in this path forward as best we can," he said.
Donilon says the United States is encouraging Burmese authorities to collaborate further with both the international community and domestic civil society. It is part of what the Obama administration calls a "rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific" - a move toward greater U.S. military, diplomatic, and commercial presence in Asia that has caused anxiety in China.
"The idea is to persuade the Chinese that the American rebalancing is good for China," said Michael Pillsbury, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who worked for former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.
"The U.S. is portrayed basically to Chinese youth and to Chinese university students and I am afraid to Chinese officials as a very crafty, dangerous, highly-coordinated, ruthless, cunning power that in many ways China would like to emulate," he added.