November 11, 2017

Trump's Post-Pivot Strategy

By Patrick M. Cronin

U.S. President Donald Trump’s five-nation tour of Asia in November 2017 marks the inception of America’s post-pivot strategy.  Through summitry and speeches, Trump set forth his broad vision for preserving peace and prosperity across a vast yet dynamic region critical to the U.S. national interest.

It was in Da Nang, the fourth stop on the trip, where Trump outlined the administration’s overall Asian policy in his address to CEOs. Offering a general set of principles and interests that will be fleshed out over the coming years, Trump sketched out his “Indo-Pacific dream” — something clearly intended as an alternative to Xi Jinping’s “China dream” and Belt and Road Initiative.

In so many respects, U.S. policy remains moored deeply in history. Indeed, the president began his speech by observing how the United States has been engaged in commerce, freedom of navigation, and security in this region since American independence.

Paying homage to the rise of Asia, Trump enumerated some of the recent achievements of specific countries. He praised an opening Vietnam and an Indonesia that is one of the fastest growing G20 economies. He highlighted Thailand’s ascent into the group of upper middle-income countries in less than a generation, and Malaysia as “one of the best places in the world to do business.” Trump noted how Singapore had been transformed by “honest governance” and how the Philippines was a leader in Asia in closing the gender gap. He credited China’s market reforms with lifting 800 million people out of poverty. Finally, he reserved special tribute for three of the wealthiest Asian democracies: South Korea, Japan, and India.

Read the full commentary in The Diplomat.

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