Donald J. Trump’s win in the 2016 US elections was met with mixed emotions across Asia. Many in the region greeted the election with cautious optimism. They assumed that Washington would take a more pragmatic line, and that a man who prided himself on his business acumen would present new opportunities in trade and resource relations.
But the Trump presidency has proven to be unpredictable. His relationship with Asian countries has been wide-ranging, from flattering to negligent, and competition among the major powers, particularly between China and the United States, has intensified and is now the dominant feature of the region’s international relations.
La Trobe Asia will explore this increasingly complex topic in its latest La Trobe Asia Brief - A More Dangerous Place: Trump in Asia.
The publication comprises a series of opinion pieces, published with a creative commons license, examining the relationship between the United States and Asia by eight, highly-respected experts with diverse views from across the region.
It makes a timely and valuable contribution to America's increasingly polarised relationship with Asia, and should serve as a valuable resource for policymakers, scholars and members of the public.
Accelerating instability in the region
Professor Nick Bisley (Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University)
"Four years ago, Asia was on a trajectory of greater contestation. Now competition among the major powers, particularly between China and the United States, is the dominant feature of the region’s international relations."
Natasha Kassam (Research Fellow, Diplomacy and Public Opinion Program, Lowy Institute)
"The risk is that Taiwan is a pawn on a greater chessboard as President Trump and Chairman Xi preside over a diplomatic fracture."
What happened to “gatchi gabsida (we go together)”?
Sea Young Kim (Research Associate, East Asia Institute)
"In order to facilitate tangible outcomes in successive negotiations with North Korea, the U.S. and South Korea need to mend their bilateral alliance."
Strongest in the region?
Dr Huong Le Thu (Senior Analyst, Defence & Strategy Program, Australian Strategic Policy Institute)
"Donald Trump’s first term was not as disruptive for Vietnam as it was for some other neighbours."
Geostrategic decoupling or deflating
Professor Zha Daojiong (School of International Studies, Peking University)
"No country accepts itself becoming a freight car on a train with either China or the U.S. as the locomotive, with no other options available or allowed."
The empire wants you back
Associate Professor Nicole Curato (Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra)
"As U.S. military operations scale back in the Philippines, what is increasingly clear is that in times of crisis and uncertainty, the Empire wants the Philippines back. It will save a lot of money."
A president yet to make his mark
Dr Dina Afrianty (Research Fellow, La Trobe Law School, La Trobe University)
"There is a risk that Trump may end his Presidency with a resort in Indonesia, and little else to show for it."
A more high-maintenance relationship for India
Tanvi Madan (Director, The India Project, The Brookings Institution)
"It is difficult to conclude that Modi and Trump have chemistry. But Trump has indicated that he sees Modi as a strongman and a winner—impressions likely reinforced by Modi’s re-election."