Allies Seek Reassurance From Trump’s Asia Visit. Can He Deliver?

Allies Seek Reassurance From Trump’s Asia Visit. Can He Deliver?
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together at Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

U.S. President Donald Trump will embark on his first presidential tour of Asia on Friday, where he will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. The trip kicks off just 10 days after Chinese President Xi Jinping emerged triumphantly from the Communist Party of China’s 19th Party Congress, having solidified his rule over the party and articulated a strategic vision for China’s emergence as a global power.

All eyes will be on the U.S. president to see whether he is able to reassure America’s anxious allies and partners, as well as the nonaligned countries of the region, of Washington’s commitment to Asia’s security and stability. Such reassurance is all the more necessary in the face of a rising China that is no longer bashful about proclaiming its own great power ambitions.

However, Trump faces serious constraints on his ability to soothe the region’s collective nerves. Some of these are due to his stated convictions and priorities, while others result from structural shifts in regional and global geopolitics that have not played in Washington’s favor.

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