Connect with us

China

Donald Trump’s America First agenda in Asia

Foreign policy is traditionally seen as the prerogative of the executive branch of government, but already it seems the US Congress and judiciary will claim their authority in shaping the president’s choices

Avatar

Published

on

In his first weeks in office, President Trump has moved quickly to implement his America First agenda through a slew of executive orders.

Trump’s America First agenda has several implications for foreign policymaking. First, the ideas that motivate foreign policy will now need to meet the threshold of proving concrete benefits to the United States.

The metric thus far seems to be the creation of jobs, and Trump’s outing of companies rumoured to be moving jobs offshore has prompted hasty promises to stay home.

Trade and immigration are his foreign policy focal points

Those who populate the administration will not be from traditional sources of foreign policy expertise. These ‘never Trumpers’, who during the campaign argued against Trump’s candidacy, are now largely locked out of consideration for positions in the new administration.

Foreign policy is traditionally seen as the prerogative of the executive branch of government, but already it seems the US Congress and judiciary will claim their authority in shaping the president’s choices if he runs up against existing treaties or laws.

Broadly speaking, the new president has already demonstrated preferences for how he would like to pursue diplomacy in Asia.

Trade policy seems destined for bilateralisation, and this could put US allies in a difficult spot. The new norms and rules of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) abandoned, these negotiations would likely focus exclusively on difficult market access issues — many of which have already been tackled during the TPP negotiations.

On the surface, closing the borders may seem to have little import for Asia, but it has stirred memories of past laws that barred Chinese immigrants and the unlawful detention of Japanese-Americans on the grounds that they were helping the enemy in wartime.

And the metric of producing US jobs also suggests greater scrutiny of Asian companies doing business in the United States.

In the security realm too this penchant for bilateralism could, at the very least, suggest a diminished US role in the East Asia Summit or any of the other ASEAN-centred efforts to discuss regional security.

US Asia policy could very quickly become politicised and its alliances subjected to greater popular scrutiny with little or no strategic assessment of their value to the region.

But, like his predecessors, President Trump will — and has already — run into Congress as he charts this new course. Asia policy has always reflected this tug and pull between the White House and Congress.

One relationship is of particular interest to US legislators — the US relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Since the Nixon administration pursued normalisation in the 1970s, US China policy has been contentious on Capitol Hill.

Already there are signs that the United States will organise its approach to Asia around its antagonism towards China. As president-elect, Trump tweeted several times about being willing to rethink the ‘one China’ policy in the wake of the phone call with President Tsai. Some of those associated with the campaign have also written about the need for a harder line towards Beijing, both in terms of taking a different approach to reducing the US trade deficit as well as upping US naval power in the region to contend with China’s maritime expansion.

In his confirmation hearing, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State made it very clear that the United States would challenge Chinese behaviour in the South China Sea.

Rex Tillerson said: ‘We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed’.

This drew a quick reaction from China. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lu Kang quietly discouraged the United States from getting involved in the dispute, stating, ‘The situation in the South China Sea has cooled down as countries in the region have come round to the agreement.

We hope that countries outside the region will respect such an agreement that serves the common interests of the region and beyond’. The more pugilistic writers at the Global Times went further. ‘Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish’.

For some of Trump’s advisors, Ronald Reagan’s call for ‘peace through strength’ still resonates, and this approach is largely welcomed by Washington’s Asian allies who rely on US military might for deterrence. But an escalation of tensions with China, especially over the sensitive issue of Taiwan, could make the already difficult military relations between Beijing and Tokyo…

Author: Sheila A Smith, CFR
Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Comments

China

Why Foreign Firms Struggle to Break Into China

In 2017, an analysis by Goldman Sachs found that while S&P 500 companies earned 30 percent of their revenues outside of the United States, China accounted for only 1 percent of their revenues.

Avatar

Published

on

For growth-starved Western entrepreneurs, the Chinese market is appealing. Think about it: Since 1995, China’s economy has grown by a factor of 18.5, from US$735 billion to US$13.6 trillion (excluding Hong Kong).

(more…)

Continue Reading

China

How China is using tourists to realise its geopolitical goals

Over the last two decades, the number of Chinese overseas travellers rose by over 25 times from 5.3 million in 1997 to 130 million in 2017, contributing an estimated US$250 billion to overseas economies

East Asia Forum

Published

on

Decades of astonishing economic growth have given China new tools for extending its influence abroad and achieving its political goals. Some of these tools are inducements, including Belt and Road Initiative projects and new development financial institutions.

(more…)

Continue Reading

Banking

How China’s role in global finance has changed radically

Within the space of just 15 years, China has gone from being the largest net lender to the world to now being a net borrower. The implications for the global economy, and China’s role within that economy, could be significant.

East Asia Forum

Published

on

‘If you owe the bank $1 million, you have a problem. But if you owe the bank $1 trillion, then the bank has a problem’. It’s an old gag, but it underscores an important point: the size of your borrowing or lending can have profound implications for your role in the world.

(more…)

Continue Reading

Most Read

Upcoming Events

Wed 27

The Future Energy Show Thailand

November 27 @ 10:00 am - November 28 @ 5:30 pm BMT
Dec 02

Top Food science conference 2019

December 2 @ 9:00 am - December 3 @ 5:00 pm BMT
Dec 05
Dec 05

The Healthcare+ Expo Taiwan

December 5 @ 9:00 am - December 8 @ 5:30 pm BMT

Press Release

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 11,822 other subscribers

Trending