US policy in Asia heads from bad to worse

Author: Sheila A Smith, CFR

If the past year is any indication of the year ahead, US policy in Asia will be erratic and self-serving. The beginnings of an Indo-Pacific strategy notwithstanding, the Trump administration continues to work out its issues with countries in the region bilaterally and sporadically.


US President Donald Trump departs on Marine One for travel to New Orleans from the South Lawn of the White House, Washington DC, United States, 14 January 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Leah Millis).

The Trump administration’s trade confrontation with China is yet to produce a negotiated solution. The challenge is structural and no amount of Chinese promises to ‘buy American’ will fix the underlying problems.

The challenge posed by Chinese companies is felt far beyond the US government. The Department of Justice’s enforcement of US law on companies accused of commercial espionage and cyber theft is only strengthening. Beyond the high-profile detention in Canada and pending extradition of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou, numerous indictments of Chinese companies are being pursued.

Without real change in Beijing’s enforcement of intellectual property theft, simply shifting the trade balance toward a more favourable direction for the United States will be insufficient to address the economic strain.

Trump’s approach to China is not only about commerce. Vice …continue reading