Sunday, December 11, 2016

Donald Trump and East Asia

Photo by Gage Skidmore
What will the election of Donald Trump mean for East Asia?

Let's look at some of the areas where he probably, if not already, will get himself involved in.
  • Trade, the Economy and and Trade Deals >> He will probably scrap the TPP
  • Taiwan-China issue >> Phone call with Madam Tsai will not be his last move
  • Role of China in East Asia (e.g. expansion in the South China Sea) >> Let's see
  • US positioning in East Asia (e.g. military basis and security role)  >> The generals will probably not accept any hand-sitting
  • North Korea >> Expect strong rhetoric, but I doubt this will result in much more than Twumping (a conflagation of Twitter and Trump), which is really more from the to-be-built media- and entertainment wing of the White House.
The outcome and perspective of all of these naturally depends on who is making the analysis (e.g. the view from Singapore will be quite different from China), but generally it's quite clear that Donald Trump cares little for the long-term prosperity of most of the souls in East Asia -- although I would be happy to stand corrected if you can prove otherwise -- and that he might turn down a great possibility for further cooperation to instead turn the trans-pacific relationship into a mercantile, zero-sum game, and generally hostile environment in favor of winning favor back 'home'.

Most of the topics require skilled diplomacy, but that is surely not his strong suit and with an apparently penchant to choose either ex-generals or 'deal makers' (e.g. Tillerson), it's clear that the US-East Asia relationship is subject to significant changes in the coming four years.

Better buckle up and get ready for a dramatic and action-packed presidency, as Donald Trump exerts his influence on East Asia.

Looking forward to your comments.