The Trump team’s early forays into Asia couldn’t have gone better. In early February, Defense Secretary James Mattis received high praise for his trip to Tokyo and Seoul, reassuring nervous allies that the Trump administration would continue decades of American leadership in Asia. A week later, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe braved a visit to the White House and was rewarded with President Donald Trump reaffirming the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance.
The U.S. policy of strategic patience with North Korea is finished. But direct U.S. talks with Pyongyang, conditioned on a nuclear & missile testing freeze, intrusive inspections, & a ban on transfers to third parties, could be best U.S. option, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass.
“U.S. allies in Asia will want to make sure that the new administration understands their contributions to regional stability, as well as their perspectives on the sources of instability in Asia,” writes CFR Senior Fellow Sheila A. Smith.
According to Ambassador Robert Blackwill, previous U.S. strategies of "engaging and hedging" with respect to China have failed. Will the Trump administration develop the right grand strategy to deal with China and protect U.S. vital interests?
In a matter of weeks, all of China’s fears have come to a head on the Korean Peninsula. At an airport in Malaysia in mid-February, the exiled half-brother of North Korea’s ruler was assassinated with a nerve agent, reminding the world that the Hermit Kingdom is run by a paranoid and violent regime. Closer to home, North Korea conducted two rounds of ballistic missile tests in stark violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
By far the biggest winner if NAFTA ends will be China, writes Shannon O’Neil. As for the losers, “are thousands of small and medium-sized American businesses, which are more likely to export to Mexico than anywhere else in the world.”
North Korean sanctions evasion has largely eviscerated the intent and impact of UN sanctions resolutions designed to block international financial and material support for North Korean nuclear and missile development efforts. Aside from the obvious Chinese loophole, the assassination of Kim Jong Nam has shone a bright light on another major portal for North Korean illicit actions and sanctions evasion: Malaysia.
From a White House largely defined by caprice, there’s been a consistent message that it’s time to get tough on China: to push back in the South China Sea, to challenge China’s unfair trade and investment practices, and to demand more from Beijing on North Korea.
A surge in deaths in China from a virulent form of influenza has set off a scramble among health officials to find infected bird stocks, while experts have yet to produce a viable vaccine, writes CFR’s Laurie Garrett.
Benn Steil and Emma Smith show how China mirrors the U.S. “exorbitant privilege” from minting the world’s primary reserve currency. While the United States is deeply indebted to the rest of the world, it still earns far more abroad than it pays out. China, in contrast, has become the world’s largest creditor while paying foreigners far more than it receives. Steil and Smith argue that China is making itself vulnerable to financial crisis by massively subsidizing its geostrategic objectives.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2016 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »