The News Lens
By: Hunter Marston
The election of Donald Trump to the White House now paves the way for Beijing to exert
more influence and control in the region. It will also leave long-time allies nervous, and puts the U.S. at economic and strategic risk, writes Hunter Marston.
With the election of Donald Trump, American voters voiced support for “America-first” isolationism, rejecting the likely continuation of Barack Obama’s liberal internationalism. Southeast Asia will almost certainly shift to the backburner and lose the high level of attention it received during the Obama years. The implications for regional trade and security are grave, and mostly negative.
Trump has openly questioned the value of U.S. alliances in Asia and even suggested that South Korea and Japan should acquire nuclear weapons to fend for themselves. This cool indifference to the security of our Asian allies belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the benefits the United States derives from overseas alliances and basing agreements, and it opens the possibility of catastrophic conflict sparked by nuclear brinkmanship.
In Southeast Asia, risk of nuclear conflict may be absent, but the withdrawal, or weakening, of the U.S. security commitment enhances China’s influence to its south and will leave the U.S. outside the regional trade architecture.
The Philippines, which under populist President Rodrigo Duterte has tilted away from the United States and sought closer relations with China, will likely continue in this direction – though Trump and Duterte, who has been dubbed “the Trump of the East,” may find something in common with each other, which could in turn warm the frosty U.S.-Philippines relationship. [FULL STORY]