Why Trump May Be a Net Gain for Asia
Donald Trump's comments and actions since winning the U.S. presidential election provide new insights into how his administration may impact Asian dynamics. Some course corrections on China policy would be welcome, but uncertainty in other areas could compound allies' anxieties and undercut U.S. economic interests.
First is his plan to engage Russia, overlooking its revanchism in Europe and meddling in American elections. A new U.S.-Russia entente could align Washington with Tokyo and New Delhi in prizing Russian leader Vladimir Putin away from his quasi-alliance with Beijing to prevent Sino-Russian domination of the Eurasian heartland.Several of Trump's promised initiatives dovetail with Asian concerns, potentially creating new synergies for cooperation. Some of his proposed policies may actually put him in sync with Asian powers that take a more nationalistic line on the uses of military power and economic statecraft.
Trump is also more in sync with Asian counterparts in his determination to use state power for geo-economic gain. His threats to impose punitive tariffs on China, and to create leverage for trade negotiations with Beijing by playing the Taiwan card, resemble China's own carrot-and-stick approach to economic engagement. A U.S. trade policy approach tinged by mercantilism might resemble Japan in the 1980s, when bureaucrats colluded with Japanese corporations to make them agents of Japanese statecraft abroad. It could also mirror Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attempts to use state power to drive growth through economic diplomacy and official exhortation, including the "Make in India" campaign.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore