Trump Put in the Time on His Asia Trip, but He Got Little in Return

Trump Put in the Time on His Asia Trip, but He Got Little in Return
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at an ASEAN summit dinner at the SMX Convention Center, Nov. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

During his marathon visit to Asia, the longest by a U.S. president in over 25 years, Donald Trump at least demonstrated to American allies and partners that he is not going to ignore the region. Following up on the Obama administration’s promise to regularly send high-level U.S. officials to major Asian summits to demonstrate Washington’s regional commitment, Trump attended the summits of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But he cut short his trip at the last minute and skipped the East Asia Summit’s plenary session, which he had added to his itinerary earlier. He also held an impressive array of bilateral meetings.

In his pleasant interactions with Asian leaders, Trump clearly tried to use charm to build personal ties, most of all in China, where he had a “state-plus” visit in which he seemed to get along well with President Xi Jinping. He offered somewhat reassuring rhetoric, at least at times, about his administration’s position on the most dangerous regional challenge, North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Unfortunately, despite Trump’s boasting, the trip did not deliver many substantial accomplishments. This is not necessarily a fault of Trump’s personal style or his sometimes-rambling speeches. Rather, much of the Trump administration’s vision for U.S.-Asia ties, from trade to strategic and political measures, simply does not mesh with Asian nations’ own plans. That includes many countries’ desire for greater regional trade integration and their impulse to keep relations warm with a rising China. As Trump almost completely ignored human rights throughout his visit, he may have further alienated large, pro-democracy segments of the population across Asia.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review