Almost one year since he was elected as the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump visited 5 countries in Asia ranging from South Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Starting from November 5th, 2017, he went on a 12 day tour that sought to address North Korea, trade deficit, and political relations.
In South Korea, Trump spoke mainly on the issue of North Korea. During his speech to the South Korean National Assembly, Trump labelled North Korea a cult, which according to him, endorsed sickening beliefs which forces women “to abort babies that are considered ethnically inferior”. The United States president then vowed to tackle this corrupt regime and discredited the leverage nuclear weapons brings to North Korea. Before concluding his speech, he also called for other global economic and political superpowers China and Russia to aid the United States moving forward on this matter.
This concept of uniting against North Korea cropped up during his stay in Japan, where among other things, most prominently trade, the United States president asserted that “no dictator, no regime, no nation should ever underestimate the American resolve”. In doing so, he called for Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe to unite together in tearing apart the North Korean dictatorship.
While President Trump was outgoing in South Korea and North Korea, he was uncharacteristically reserved in China, a country he has openly criticized many times before. He spoke minimally on primary issues such as trade, and took no concrete measures to improve the growing deficit in trade between China and the United States he always stressed. Instead, he asked rhetorically, “who can blame a country for being able to take great advantage of another country to the benefit of its own citizens?”.
Like he did in China, Trump yet again reserved criticisms in the Philippines, whose leader Rodrigo Duterte was facing backlashes for his indifference towards the war on drugs that left thousands of Filipinos dead. Instead, he boasted a warm relationship Duterte and him. This came after years of tense relationships with the Philippines during the Obama presidency, which criticized Duterte for his lack of care for human rights.
In Vietnam, Trump again urged Vietnamese leaders to balance out the substantial trade deficit with the United States, specifically asking them to buy American military gear, aircraft, and missiles. He then hailed the restoring relationship between the two countries after conflict during the Vietnam war. To conclude, he asserted that the two countries must translate that peace to the Korean peninsula in an effort to denuclearize North Korea.
In a 12- day tour that was met with, among other things, much criticism and backlash, President Trump has clearly stressed three goals: balancing out trade deficit, strengthening political relationship, and most importantly, tackling the Kim dictatorship in North Korea. Whether or not these goals are met, however, is another issue altogether. Trump’s first tour of Asia served as a first step towards strengthening international relations.