What Is He Doing in Asia?

As Donald Trump embarks on his trip to Asia, one cannot help but ask what he is doing in Asia. Resolving the security issues related to North Korea, expanding U.S. trade interests, or jeopardizing the region’s peace as he has created uncertainty among Asian leaders in his first 10 months of presidency?

America’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has concerned policymakers and business leaders across the Pacific. However, Trump’s 12-day itinerary with bilateral and multilateral meetings in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, is planned to accomplish the following, according to the Washington Post:

1) Clarifying U.S. foreign policy

Trump’s “America first” vision may result in U.S. disengagement from the region. On the other hand, other than TPP, Trump has not deviated greatly from the Obama administration’s “Asia pivot,” which was devised to reassure allies about the continued U.S. presence in Asia. Commitment and partnership is anticipated.

2) Reinforcing U.S. ties with Asia

Leadership in Japan and China takes on an assertive role for the region as well as the globe. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s is carrying TPP forward with the 11 remaining partners in the absence of the United States. President Xi Jinping announced China’s long-term vision of being a global leader. Trump is expected to strengthen his rapport with both Xi and Abe, as well as other Asian allies.

3) Forging a consensus on North Korea’s nuclear threat

With Moon, Xi, Abe and other leaders at the ASEAN meeting, Trump will look for allies and partners to “strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat” and move toward a denuclearized Korea.

4) Negotiating U.S. trade interests

Trump will negotiate U.S. trade interests at the APEC summit in Vietnam. With Japan, Trump seeks a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), which would be at odds with Abe’s hopes to keep alive the TPP deal. Trump will also renegotiate the 2012 KORUS FTA with Korea, and address perennial trade issues with China to lessen barriers to U.S. commercial engagement in the Chinese world.

The 12-day, five-country trip, comes at a precarious moment for Trump. His former campaign chairman was indicted, and another adviser pleaded guilty as part of an investigation into collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russian officials.

As Trump undergoes domestic vulnerabilities, the trip presents a crucial international test. The White House is proposing that Trump will push American economic interests in the region, but the North Korean threat is expected to dominate the trip. The escalation of rhetoric has undermined confidence in the U.S. as a stabilizing force in Asia. The White House hopes the trip could offer a chance at a reset for Trump, an opportunity to forcefully assert U.S. pledges to its allies and send an effective warning directly to North Korea. We shall s