Former CNN Correspondent for Asia-Pacific Region
Former CNN Asia Correspondent Mike Chinoy is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California and the creator of the Assignment China documentary film series on the history of American correspondents in China. Read More >
Being a Journalist
Dealing with North Korea
Donald Trump campaigned for President by denouncing China, threatening to impose punishing tariffs of Chinese goods, questioning the decades-old U.S. policy towards Taiwan, and belittling American alliances in Asia, however, the worst has not happened. Trump has backed off threats of a Sino-American trade war, endorsed the “one-China” policy, held a successful summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping. accepted an invitation to visit China later in the year, reaffirmed U.S. alliance relationships, and sent his Vice President and key cabinet officials to the region. While these reversals have brought Trump closer to traditional U.S. positions, the road ahead remains uncertain, and the risk of political or economic conflict, outright military clashes, or even full-scale war in the region remains. Trump has deliberately heightened tensions with North Korea by displays of military muscle-flexing and threats that “all options are on the table.” He has linked a reduction in Sino-American trade tensions to Beijing’s willingness to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. More broadly, Trump has failed to put forth a coherent long-term strategy for Asia. His administration remains torn between what some observers have described as the “axis of ideologues” and the “axis of adults.” Most fundamentally, Trump’s own core beliefs and values- if he has any - remain unclear. The result is continuing uncertainty about American policy in Asia, and growing anxiety about what Trump might do if and when the inevitable crisis in the region erupts.
Asia has six of the world's ten largest economies, seven of the ten largest militaries, six of the ten greatest consumers of energy, and six of the ten largest polluters. It will almost certainly be the world's center of gravity in the 21st century. Yet, in the United States, preoccupied by Iraq, Iran, the Middle East and domestic concerns, Asia is frequently almost an afterthought – in the government, the media, and public discussion. One result: the US is paying less attention to Asia, with a corresponding decrease in American influence, reflected in China's increasing regional clout and Washington's growing inability to shape events and protect its interests. Is the US in danger of missing out on the Asian century?
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