President Trump’s Visit to Asia


Photo Courtesy of the New York Times

President Trump shaking hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, third from right, and other leaders.

Izzy McKinney, Editor

Trump has had a busy 12 days as he traveled throughout five countries in Asia; an exhausting experience that left even many experienced reporters unable to keep up with the President at times. While in Asia, Trump visited many foreign leaders and attended three international summits. The visit was a mix of speeches and meetings, during which Trump was said to be a bit more restrained than he usually is. Trump was positive about his trip, telling reporters, “I think we made a lot of progress just in terms of relationship”.

The Indo-Pacific area of the world is important to the United States, consisting of many vital allies. When visiting overseas, a president is traditionally expected to discuss foreign policy or create new deals, although according to the Washington Post, “apart from his criticisms of North Korea, he made no strong statements about human rights”. It was also reported no official or concrete plans were given regarding foreign policy.

One of the more controversial visits of his trip included Trump meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to try to improve relations. Dutere has faced global criticism due to his violent actions concerning drug traffickers. Trump told reporters, “As you know we had no relationship for a long period of time in the Philippines. Now we have a very good relationship there. We’re back with the Philippines”.

The trip also served as a platform on which Trump suggested that the Japanese Prime Minister purchase military equipment from the United States. NPR reported, “Trump urged counterparts to buy more military hardware from the United States”. He argued this would create jobs for Americans and provide safety for Japan.

Despite having pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Trump made it clear he planned to be a major player in regard to trade with Asia. The Week states, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP for short, was never a great trade deal for the U.S. or its workers… yet, it guaranteed that no matter what… Asia would always be front and center, and free trade would be the basis of America’s engagement with the region. TPP was always much more than a trade deal; it was the best way for Washington to prove to the region it was committed to its safety, security, and vitality for the long-term, no matter how strong China got or how many nukes North Korea built”.

Trump pulling out of the TTP was a very controversial move. He believes that negotiating deals with countries individually will produce better results.

The trip was full of positive moments but negatives as well. A highlight of the trip could be when Trump oversaw the signing of a commercial contract with Chinese President Xi that presided over the sale of American natural gas, soybeans, aircraft parts, and computer chips, according to NPR. However, a less exciting moment for the President was when he gave a speech in Vietnam that was not received well, only to be followed up by President Xi who drew a standing ovation from the audience.

A major moment to note during the trip was Trump’s conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some have accused Russia of tampering in the election, and Trump said after speaking with Putin, “‘I asked him again… You can only ask so many times… He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did. I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it… I think he’s very insulted, if you want to know the truth'”. It should be noted that there is no proof supporting Putin’s claims, nor is there evidence of Russian collusion in the 2016 election.

There were many important issues that needed to have been discussed, according to the Week, such as “the rise of China and India; a nuclear North Korea; the fate of Taiwan’s democracy; control of the vital sea lanes and resources of the South and East China Seas”. It is unclear if these topics were discussed, as there were a number of meetings shrouded in security and mystery.

Trump appeared very flattered from all the attention he received from foreign leaders on his trip, saying, “‘It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably every received… And that really is a sign of respect, perhaps for me a little bit, but really for our country'”.