17 November 2017
That American presidential visits to East Asia always assume special significance hardly needs to be said. After all, the United States has played the role of linchpin of regional peace and prosperity since the end of the Second World War. Even so, seldom has an American presidential trip to the region prompted as much apprehension as Donald Trump’s recently-concluded 12-day tour: his first as president, and his longest overseas trip thus far.
Not unlike criticisms of his domestic policies, much has been made of Trump’s missteps in foreign policy as well. The president has been taken to task for reneging on the Paris climate accords, cozying up to the Saudi regime, alienating European allies and engaging in petulant name-calling with North Korea’s Mr Kim Jong Un. It was quite a surprise, therefore, that Trump decided to combine his visits to Japan, South Korea and Vietnam with three major regional summits – the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the East Asia and ASEAN Summits – which engaged all the major powers around the Indo-Pacific – although he skipped the EAS plenary session at the 11th hour.
…Joseph Chinyong Liow is dean and professor of comparative and international politics at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 21/11/2017