President Donald Trump of the United States has embarked on a 12-day tour to Asia (East Asia, to be precise) during which he is visiting Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
It is the longest official trip by an incumbent US President since 1992. George H W Bush had then spent the same period in Asia.
The trip comes at a time of sharp tensions with North Korea over its nuclear programme and missile tests.
It is expected that Mr. Trump shows a united front with South Korea and Japan while at the same time pressing China to take a stronger line with Pyongyang.
The President, en route to Japan, stopped in Hawaii to pay his respects at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour—the scene of the 1941 Japanese attack that led to US entry in the Second World War. He also took part in a briefing at the US Pacific Command, which oversees US military operations in the region. It is in this Eastern theatre that the US fought four major battles in the last over a century—Philippines, Japan, Vietnam and Korea. In fact the Korean War has virtually not ‘ended’.
In Japan, his first stop, Trump visited the Yokota air force base near Tokyo. Here he said that no nation should underestimate American resolve and that the US military had the resources needed to keep peace and defend freedom. Earlier the two leaders played golf.
Trump makes the short hop to South Korea on November 7. Here he will have meetings with President Moon Jae-in and the regime of Kim Jong Un will most likely dominate discussions. Although he has previously exchanged fiery rhetoric with North Korea over its ballistic missile tests, he would not be going to the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) that has divided the Korean peninsula for more than six decades since the Korean War. He will also visit Camp Humphreys, a US military base about 40 miles south of Seoul.
President Trump’s visit to the region has once again escalated tensions in the Far East, as in October there were signs of cooling down of temperature. Before the start of the trip US fighter jets flew over Korean peninsula as a sign of warning to Pyongyang. Though he is to attend APEC, ASEAN and East Asia Summit during this trip, the main thrust of the whole exercise is to checkmate China and its ‘ally’ North Korea. The visit is coming ten days after the 19th Party Congress of the Communist Party of China. In contrast to the past where the US was more interested in countering the influence of the then Soviet Union in the region, the Trump administration does not appear to be clear in checking China. Immediately after taking over earlier this year the Trump administration withdrew from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Experts now say that it was a counter-productive move.
During the trip to the region, Trump will get an opportunity to meet many of the top leaders of Asia-Pacific—Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi. May be after this tour, Trump gets to understand the region better.
Sarim Ahmed is a trainee journalist associated with ‘The Morning Chronicle’. International affairs is his one of the favourite subjects. If you like this piece, do not hesitate to appreciate Sarim at email@example.com.