Recapping President Trump’s Historic Asia Visit

November 28, 2017

“The fruits of our labor are going to be incredible,” United States President Donald Trump said. “We’ve had a tremendously successful trip.”
These optimistic words come at the conclusion of Trump’s 12-day Asia trip, the longest visit to Asia by an American President in more than 25 years. The tour included visits to five countries – Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines – and three summits, where trade and security were discussed. The meetings were part of an American effort to regain standing and power in the region, which Trump argues was lost during the two terms of President Obama’s presidency.
“America’s renewed confidence and standing in the world has never been stronger than it is right now. The world saw a strong, proud, and confident America,” Trump said in a press conference after returning to the White House.
President Trump began his trip with a two-day stop in Japan, where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Wearing white hats that read, “Donald and Shinzo, Make Alliance Even Greater,” the two leaders discussed strategies to combat the threat of nuclear North Korea, a common topic that was discussed throughout the trip. The visit, however, was not all serious – Abe and Trump were seen laughing and fist-bumping while playing nine holes of golf and eating wagyu beef hamburgers.
A bit less warm and friendly was Trump’s next stop – Seoul, South Korea. In the months since former Korean President Park Geun-Hye’s ouster from office, Trump and current South Korean President Moon Jae-In have had a bit of a turbulent relationship. The leaders have had differing views on how to handle North Korea; Trump has taken a more aggressive posture with his “fire and fury” tactics, while Moon prefers a more tempered approach. During his visit, however, Trump seemed to ease back on his aggressiveness, saying he “hope[s] to God” that the United States will not have to use its military to deal with the unpredictable Kim Jong-Un to the North. He also made a speech at the Korean National Assembly, where he stressed unity as a solution to the current tense situation.
“We will not permit America, or our allies, to be blackmailed or attacked,” Trump stated. “South Korea will never allow what’s going on in North Korea to continue to happen.”
The US President even tried to make an appearance at the DMZ, the famous strip of land dividing North and South Korea, but his plans for a surprise visit were foiled by inclement weather. Although Trump only spent a day in South Korea, it seems that progress was made towards finding a strategy that both nations can agree on.
Following his action-packed day in the South Korean capital, President Trump flew to Beijing, China, where he met with Chinese General Secretary, Xi Jinping. Welcomed by elaborate performances and an elegant dinner, Trump had high praise for the country that many view as America’s chief rival.
Trump tweeted, “President Xi, thank you for such an incredible welcome ceremony. It was a truly memorable and impressive display!” following his first day in the Chinese capital.
Keeping true to his agenda, Trump discussed with Xi two key issues that have caused tension between the United States and China – trade and North Korea. Both topics seemed to spark productive discussion and optimism for the future.
“My meetings with President Xi Jinping were very productive on both trade and the subject of North Korea. He is a highly respected and powerful representative of his people,” Trump said in a November 9 tweet. President Trump’s effusive praise of the Chinese President drew some backlash from critics back home.
Trump’s visits to Vietnam and the Philippines would round out his trip. He met with leaders of both nations and once again discussed the issue of North Korea and possible responses. Most notably, Trump spoke at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Danang, Vietnam. It was apparent that Trump was trying to establish a better relationship with the Asian countries, both in trade and diplomatic relations.
While critics of the President point to a lack of any tangible agreements stemming from the Asian visits, Asian leaders seem to be very pleased with the President’s willingness to devote so much time to his Asian trip, and most pundits back home viewed the trip as a success. Only time will tell whether the President’s efforts in advancing America’s trade and foreign policy interests in Asia will bear fruit.

<Elan Zohar, Korea Times Student Intern Reporter / Brentwood School Senior>


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