Trump in Japan Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Trump’s Opportunity in Asia

On Donald Trump's first visit to Asia as US president, his administration seems to be hoping to reassure allies and open parts of China's market to American firms. But these are small-bore goals, especially given the historic opportunities for the US in the Asia-Pacific region.

WASHINGTON, DC – A year after his election, US President Donald Trump is making his first official visit to Asia. The 12-day tour of five countries – Trump’s longest foreign trip so far – will, according to official briefings, focus on easing doubts about the reliability of the United States and its leader. Given the challenges and possibilities for the US in Asia, that is an unambitious goal.

Trump will start his trip by reinforcing America’s alliances with Japan and South Korea – alliances that he previously discounted and belittled, particularly during his campaign. The aim is to buttress his demand, which he will reiterate when he reaches Beijing, that China follow through on its pledges in the United Nations Security Council to tighten sanctions on North Korea.

Next, Trump will head to Vietnam and the Philippines. Close relations with both are necessary to underpin ongoing US efforts to challenge China’s growing influence in Southeast Asia. President Barack Obama’s administration had mixed results in competing for influence with China. Trump administration officials have lately hinted that the US may, at some point, devise a new strategy for the entire Indo-Pacific region.

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