The Case of Donald Trump

Scott W. Harold

Donald Trump came to office vowing to make many changes in US foreign policy, whether in terms of labeling China a currency manipulator,1 and addressing the US–China bilateral trade deficit,2 or questioning the value of alliances. As we enter 2020, it is worth reviewing how US Indo-Pacific policy has changed under the Trump administration, highlighting areas of change, continuity, and the legacy that Trump will either build on in a second term or pass along to his successor. What are the key dimensions of the administration’s foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific?

In 2015, I offered an assessment of the Obama administration’s “pivot” or “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific, noting that the US had strengthened its commitment to and influence across the Asia-Pacific in a number of ways, including by deploying new and more capable forces, tightening alliances, increasing its diplomatic interaction with multilateral institutions, and initiating talks on a major regional trading arrangement.3 A year later, I evaluated the legacy the Obama administration would pass to its successor in Asia, noting that it had failed to effectively respond to China’s growing use of coercion and gray zone tactics against its neighbors, had enjoyed limited success in slowing North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, had presided over an erosion in US alliances with the Philippines and Thailand (largely stemming from democratic backsliding in those two countries), and had mismanaged the process of negotiating an agreement on the TPP.4 

As the new Trump administration took office in early 2017, many Asia policy watchers offered speculations about where it might opt to make changes. Among the areas observers tended to identify were the likely termination of cooperation with China to address global warming; the abandonment of multilateral trading arrangements in favor of bilateral agreements; the downplaying in focus on human rights; and a more confrontational approach to China and North Korea.5 These prognostications have generally turned out to be correct.   

Many key developments could be highlighted in any such overview of the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific policies, but I here highlight four.6 First, the US has adopted a substantially more competitive framework for describing how it sees China. Second, it has changed how it treats its allies, pushing them hard on contributions and trade, even as there are also sources of continuity and arenas of new or expanded cooperation. Third, the administration’s approach to Taiwan has shifted, at least in terms of tone and optics. Fourth, the policy towards North Korea has fundamentally changed, permitting Seoul and Pyongyang greater sway in setting goals and timelines and shaping narratives.     

A more competitive approach to China

Reflecting disappointment with the results of past administrations’ China policy that has been shared by analysts from across the political spectrum, the Trump administration’s leading policy guidance and statements have shifted US policy towards a more openly competitive framework with Beijing.7 This reflected a mistrust of China over its rampant intellectual property theft; doubts about China’s sincerity in seeking the denuclearization of North Korea and preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; skepticism over global warming and the merits of working with China to address it; and suspicions that China would simply pocket any form of cooperation on any issue and go on doing just as it planned to do anyhow. As the National Security Strategy of the United States 2017 and the associated 2018 unclassified summary of the National Defense Strategy of the United States indicate, the Trump administration has adopted a view of the international environment characterized by a return to great power competition, with China as the leading rival to the postwar order built up by the US and its like-minded allies and partners.8 This view has been consistently sustained and expanded upon in subsequent speeches—such as those by Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Hudson Institute and Wilson Center in 2018 and 2019—as well as in documents such as the June 2019 Indo-Pacific Strategy Report released by the Department of Defense and the November 2019 US Department of State report A Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Advancing a Shared Vision.9

In order to compete with China, the administration has undertaken a number of steps, including articulating a framework and goal of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”10; reestablishing a Quadrilateral Dialogue mechanism with Australia, India, and Japan as one avenue along which to advance its vision; and renaming U.S. Pacific Command as U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) to reflect a greater prioritization on cooperation with India.11 Other steps include signing the Better Utilization of International Lending for Development (BUILD) Act, reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank of the United States; and organizing the Blue Dot Network to compete with the appeal of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.12 Officials have also highlighted questions about Beijing’s intentions and the effects of its lending, have organized the Infrastructure Transaction and Assistance Network (ITAN) to improve countries’ abilities to understand the implications of their agreements with China and potentially renegotiate these for better terms, and have stigmatized China’s lending as “debt trap diplomacy.”13 And the Trump administration and Congress have enhanced screening of Chinese foreign direct investment through the 2017 Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRMMA) that reformed the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).14 

Additionally, the administration has also sought to push Huawei and ZTE out of US networks, supply chains, and markets15 (albeit with occasional reversals in policy from the president16), and has encouraged allies and like-minded partners to block Chinese information technology providers from participating in their own telecommunications architectures.17 This latter effort, however, highlights one of the challenges the administration has faced, as some US allies and partners have been reluctant to confront China as fulsomely as Washington would like,18 while others have expressed concerns that they will be pushed to block Huawei only to find that the US has itself reversed course, perhaps as part of a prospective US-China trade deal.19  

The Trump administration’s increased focus on competition with China has been controversial for some US observers, even as others have lauded it as long overdue.20 US views of China have been hardening over the past decade and a half, leading one prominent analyst to describe the country as having shifted from “reactive assertiveness” to “opportunistic activism.”21 Today, US and Chinese analysts alike tend to describe China as having cast aside a “low posture” or “hide and bide” approach and adopted a more muscular approach to the region and world around it.22   

In the years since 2017, China has continued to grow more domestically repressive and externally aggressive. In addition to pursuing and intensifying ethnic cleansing in East Turkestan and Tibet and kidnapping some foreign nationals (such as Swede Gui Minhai) while seizing others as hostages (such as Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor), China has also continued its efforts to subvert democracy in Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan.23 It has also continued to reform the People’s Liberation Army so as to tighten political reliability, improve command and control, and enhance its ability to “fight and win local wars under conditions of informatization,” while continuing to militarize the artificial islands it built in the South China Sea.24 

In the defense realm, the Obama administration’s Third Off-Set was dropped and the Trump administration’s plans to rapidly build toward a 355 ship Navy appear to have been slowed by instability in staffing while also being squeezed for resources by the decision to pursue large- scale tax cuts in 2017.25 Under Trump, USINDOPACOM has been authorized to increase the number and publicity of its Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea, as well as the number of transits it makes of the Taiwan Strait.26  USINDOPACOM commander Adm. Phil Davidson has announced that future South China Sea FONOPs will include US allies and partners; complicating such plans have been tensions stemming from the Trump administration’s decision to treat some of these same partners as economic competitors and to push them aggressively over host-nation support (HNS) funding.27

What role for allies?

US unilateralism and skepticism of multilateral institutions—whether the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, or the International Criminal Court—is not new. The Trump administration, however, has adopted an approach to challenging China that, while it rhetorically describes US allies as an “asymmetric advantage” in the Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, has been criticized by some observers for failing to assemble a broad coalition to do so.28 Other critics go further, noting that the administration has treated traditional allies such as Canada, Europe, Japan, and South Korea as targets of US economic competition in their own right; threatened sanctions on their steel, aluminum, and other exports; hinted at possible reductions in US willingness to fulfill treaty commitments; and demanded substantial increases in contributions from allies who host US forces that some characterize as tantamount to extortion.29

To be sure, early concerns that the president’s unique style and long-standing past criticisms of US allies30 would lead to an early termination of US alliances have not been borne out, and in fact some US allies have doubled-down on their relations with the United States.31 More broadly, countries in the region have been diversifying their defense and security relationships with regional partners for the better part of a decade or more, largely owing to concerns about the rise of China, questions about US relative decline or commitment, and other factors.32 Still, the Trump administration’s approach to engaging South Korea and North Korea—pressing the former to increase its HNS contributions by 400% while talking about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in laudatory terms and overlooking a variety of provocative military tests—has created a “perfect storm” in which the US–ROK alliance and, as a consequence, US national security could become casualties.33 The United States is set to renegotiate its HNS agreement with Japan too in 2020, potentially leading to tensions between Tokyo and Washington. Unsurprisingly, America’s image has reportedly declined substantially across key countries in the Indo-Pacific, including in Australia, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea since 2017.34 Against the backdrop of a much more threatening China and North Korea, allies have been cautious about pushing back hard on Washington’s demands, but frustrations have been rising, most notably in South Korea, which has long been torn between its need for the alliance and its desire for autonomy.35 Concerns by allies about US reliability may stem from the US approach to the region under the Trump administration. 


A new tenor in ties with Taiwan

In contrast to relations with Japan and the Republic of Korea, the optics with Taiwan since late 2016 have been almost uniformly positive and clear. Immediately after his election, Trump held a phone call with President Tsai Ing-wen, the first ever US president-elect to speak to a Taiwan leader since ties were severed in 1979. Tsai has also been permitted to make numerous transit stops in the US while en route to visit Taipei’s diplomatic partners in Latin America and the Caribbean. For its part, the US Congress has encouraged the White House focus on Taiwan’s status and security, passing both the Taiwan Travel Act (TTA) and the Taiwan Reassurance Initiative Act (TRIA).  

To the surprise of some, the administration has been a bit more cautious about leveraging the TTA than many in Congress might have hoped, sending only Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce to the official dedication of the American Institute in Taiwan’s new headquarters in Neihu.36 The White House has, however, shown a commitment to continued arms sales to Taiwan, authorizing not only the sale of 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, but also up to 66 F-16V fighter jets in deals worth a combined $10B+.37 The Department of State has also consistently condemned China’s efforts to peel off Taiwan’s diplomatic support and has threatened to downgrade US ties with some countries that switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing. At the same time, Secretary of State Pompeo and many other State officials have gone out of their way to praise Taiwan’s role in the world as a “force for good.”38 And AIT has made aggressive use of its Global Cooperation Training Framework (GCTF), a program whereby the US identifies and hosts visits to Taipei by visitors from the ROC’s diplomatic partners, who come for a week of training and skills acquisition on issues ranging from how to combat mosquito-borne disease to women’s empowerment through microlending and how to identify and resist disinformation campaigns.  In 2019, AIT and Taiwan brought Japan and Sweden in as co-hosts of the program.39 Regular sail-throughs of the Taiwan Strait by the U.S. Navy may have also helped encourage other nations, such as France, to transit those waters with their own vessels, thereby signaling to Beijing that intimidation of Taiwan and attempts to privatize international bodies of water will not succeed.40 How far the administration will be willing to go in developing ties with Taipei is not clear, but symbolically the door has certainly been opened to a more fulsome set of contacts.      

From confrontation to comity with North Korea

It is in relations with North Korea that the Trump approach has evidenced some of the greatest change from past US administrations’ Indo-Pacific policies. Upon entering office, the president began a war of words with the Kim regime, culminating in a widely-reported (though also sometimes disputed) consideration of a “bloody nose” strike to chasten Pyongyang in its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Then, in 2018, following an overture from Pyongyang, the Trump administration pivoted to embrace direct talks, first in Singapore (where the president announced the suspension of joint US–ROK military exercises that he deemed “costly war games”) and later in Hanoi. No progress on denuclearization has been achieved, but the North has been able to gain valuable time, capture the prestige of three summits (a later, brief meeting occurred at the demilitarized zone separating North and South), and achieve space for developing and testing advanced conventional weapons such as a super-large rocket launcher.41 

At the same time, the Trump administration was able, through its policy of “Maximum Pressure and Engagement” and willingness to risk open conflict, to push through substantially greater sanctions on North Korea and to test the North Korean leader’s words, which have now been shown to be worthless. As such, subsequent administrations will face a more capable North Korean military with a less well-prepared US-ROK alliance, but with somewhat greater economic leverage and a knowledge that the Guerrilla Dynasty, as long suspected, has no intention of ever abandoning its “treasured sword,” is willing to employ its chemical weapons overseas, and is continuing to develop its “all-purpose sword” of cyber tools.42

Conclusion

The Trump administration’s first three years have clearly resulted in a substantial evolution of US policy toward the Indo-Pacific. With adversaries such as China and North Korea, confrontation and even possible conflict have at times appeared closer. With allies, the break with tradition has at times played to their preferences, enabling Seoul to take the lead on engagement with Pyongyang or Tokyo to conclude that the US is moving more forcefully to confront the China challenge, though they also worry that Washington might cut a deal at their expense or even abandon them. Taipei has been glad for the greater implicit promise of the TAA and TRIA as well as the substantial arms deals and the diplomatic support. Whether the Trump administration is reelected or replaced, the challenges of a more powerful, authoritarian, and aggressive China and a nuclear-armed North Korea remain unresolved and new uncertainties about allies who may be willing to commit more to their own defense but do so out of a concern over being abandoned will remain.

1. The administration followed through on this promise two and a half years after its inauguration.  See “U.S. Designates China as Currency Manipulator for First Time in Decades,” Reuters, August 5, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-currency/us-designates-china-as-currency-manipulator-for-first-time-in-decades-idUSKCN1UV2BK. It should be noted that many expert observers of Asian economic affairs believe that at the time of the administration’s designation of China as a currency manipulator, Beijing had been intervening to strengthen, not weaken, the Renminbi (i.e., the opposite of what currency manipulation charges traditionally allege), and see the designation as reflecting largely a “symbolic” political, as opposed to a policy, decision. See, for example, Brad W. Setser, “How Not to Fight a Currency War,” Foreign Affairs, August 28, 2019, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2019-08-28/how-not-fight-currency-war

2. Doug Palmer, “U.S. Trade Gap with China Reaches All-Time High Under Trump,” Politico, March 6, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/06/us-china-trade-deficit-record-1242498; Ana Swanson, “Trump Vowed to Shrink the Trade Gap.  It Keeps Growing,” The New York Times, November 5, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/05/us/politics/us-trade-deficit.html.

3. Scott W. Harold, “Is the Pivot Doomed? Assessing the Resilience of America’s Strategic ‘Rebalance’,” The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Winter 2015).

4. Scott W. Harold, “The Legacy Obama Leaves His Successor in Asia,” The National Interest, October 25, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-legacy-obama-leaves-his-successor-asia-18178

5. See, among others, Hannah Suh, Harry Kresja, and Mira Rapp-Hooper, “The Rebalance is Dead!  Long Live the Rebalance!” War on the Rocks, March 16, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/03/the-rebalance-is-dead-long-live-the-rebalance/; Colin Willett, “Trump’s Asia Policy Is More Confused than Ever,” Foreign Policy, June 12, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/06/12/trumps-asia-policy-is-more-confused-than-ever/; Joshua Kurlantzick, “Except for Trade and Human Rights, Trump Hasn’t Upended U.S. Policy in Asia—Yet,” World Politics Review, July 17, 2017, http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/22718/except-for-trade-and-human-rights-trump-hasn-t-upended-u-s-policy-in-asia-yet; James J. Pryzstup and Phillip C. Saunders, Asia and the Trump Administration: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Road Ahead (Washington, DC: National Defense University Institute for National Strategic Studies, 2017), https://inss.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/stratperspective/inss/Strategic-Perspectives-26.pdf?ver=2017-08-08-105925-483; and Rafiq Dossani and Scott W. Harold, eds., U.S. Policy in Asia—Perspectives for the Future (Santa Monica, CA: The RAND Corporation, 2018), https://www.rand.org/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF372.html.

6. For reasons of space, I have chosen to set aside issues such as the administration’s approach to regional economic architecture, symbolized most notably by the decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to decline a role in its successor Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for a Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade war with China, and the two trade deals struck with Seoul and Tokyo under some pressure. Likewise, I do not treat the failure to markedly improve relations with Bangkok or Manila despite the downplaying of pressure on those two US allies to return to full liberal democracy (Thailand) or to end extrajudicial killings (the Philippines). Nor are the abandonment of international agreements to address global warming or the Iranian nuclear program discussed here, though they are relevant for the US approach to the region.

7. Aaron Friedberg, A Contest for Supremacy: The Struggle for Mastery in Asia (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Sons, 2011); Harry Harding, “Has U.S. China Policy Failed?” The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Fall 2015), pp. 95-122; Dennis Blair, Assertive Engagement: An Updated US-Japan Strategy for China (Washington DC: Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, 2015); Robert Blackwill and Ashley J. Tellis, Revising U.S. Grand Strategy toward China (Washington, DC: Council on Foreign Relations, 2015); Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner, “The China Reckoning: How Beijing Defied American Expectations,” Foreign Affairs (March/April 2018), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-02-13/china-reckoning.

8. The National Security Strategy of the United States 2017 (Washington, DC: The White House, 2017), https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf; The National Defense Strategy of the United States: Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge (summary), https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf

9. Remarks by Vice-President Mike Pence at the Hudson Institute, October 4, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeVrMniBjSc; Remarks by Vice-President Mike Pence at the Wilson Center, October 25, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33c9LDAyui4; 201Herman Kahn Memorial Speech at the Hudson Institute by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, October 30, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik-mzUHSVlU.  

10. “President Trump’s Administration is Advancing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific through Investments and Partnerships in Economics, Security and Governance,” The White House, November 18, 2018, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-trumps-administration-advancing-free-open-indo-pacific-investments-partnerships-economics-security-governance/.

11. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, “U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Holds Change of Command Ceremony,” May 30, 2018, https://www.pacom.mil/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/1535776/us-indo-pacific-command-holds-change-of-command-ceremony/.

12. BUILD Act: Frequently Asked Questions About the New U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2019), https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45461.pdf; Overseas Private Investment Corporation, “Launch of Multi-Stakeholder Blue Dot Network,” November 4, 2019, https://www.opic.gov/press-releases/2019/launch-multi-stakeholder-blue-dot-network.

13. Zhenhua Lu, “Beijing Hits Back at US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s ‘Irresponsible’ South China Sea Energy Claims,” South China Morning Post, March 13, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3001491/mike-pompeo-accuses-beijing-creating-debt-traps-and-energy.

14. U.S. Department of the Treasury, The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) of 2018, https://home.treasury.gov/sites/default/files/2018-08/The-Foreign-Investment-Risk-Review-Modernization-Act-of-2018-FIRRMA_0.pdf

15. “Addition of Certain Entities to the Entity List and Revision of Entries on the Entity List,” U.S. Federal Register, August 21, 2019, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/21/2019-17921/addition-of-certain-entities-to-the-entity-list-and-revision-of-entries-on-the-entity-list.

16. Jodi Xu Klein, “Donald Trump Gets His Way as US Lifts ZTE Ban, Allowing Company to Continue Despite Senators’ Opposition,” South China Morning Post, July 14, 2018, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/economy/article/2155238/us-lifts-ban-american-companies-selling-parts-chinas-zte.

17. “U.S. Urges Allies to Avoid Using Huawei Equipment, WSJ Says,” Bloomberg, November 23, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-23/u-s-urges-key-allies-to-avoid-using-huawei-equipment-wsj-says.

18. Noah Barkin, “The U.S. Is Losing Europe in Its Battle with China,” The Atlantic, June 4, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/06/united-states-needs-europe-against-china/590887/; Julianne Smith and Torrey Tausig, “The Old World and the Middle Kingdom: Europe Wakes Up to China’s Rise,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2019, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2019-08-12/old-world-and-middle-kingdom.

19. Julian Barnes and Adam Satariano, “U.S. Campaign to Ban Huawei Overseas Stumbles as Allies Resist,” The New York Times, March 17, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/17/us/politics/huawei-ban.html.

20. For examples of critics of the administration, see: Jeffrey A. Bader and Jonathan Pollack, “Looking Before We Leap: Weighing the Risks of US – China Disengagement” The Brookings Institution, July 2019; https://www.brookings.edu/research/looking-before-we-leap-weighing-the-risks-of-us-china-disengagement/; Alastair Iain Johnston, “The Failures of the ‘Failure of Engagement’ with China,” The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 99-114; M. Taylor Fravel, J. Stapleton Roy, Michael D. Swaine, Susan A. Thornton and Ezra Vogel, “China Is Not an Enemy,” The Washington Post, July 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/making-china-a-us-enemy-is-counterproductive/2019/07/02/647d49d0-9bfa-11e9-b27f-ed2942f73d70_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.91be7a0ef03d; Susan Thornton, “Is American Diplomacy with China Dead?” The Foreign Service Journal, July/August 2019; https://www.afsa.org/american-diplomacy-china-dead. For examples of observers who see positives in the Trump administration’s approach to China, see James E. Fanell, et. al., “Stay the Course on China: An Open Letter to President Trump,” Journal of Political Risk, July 18, 2019, http://www.jpolrisk.com/stay-the-course-on-china-an-open-letter-to-president-trump/; Joseph Bosco, “Trump’s Demand for Reciprocity with China Can Win ‘Cold War II’,” The Hill, October 28, 2019; https://thehill.com/opinion/international/467618-trumps-demand-for-reciprocity-with-china-can-win-cold-war-ii; Grant Newsham, “Chinese PYSOPS Against America: One Hell of a Success,” AND Magazine, December 1, 2019, http://andmagazine.com/talk/2019/12/01/chinese-psyops-against-america-one-hell-of-a-success/.

21. Robert B. Zoellick, “Whither China? From Membership to Responsibility?” U.S. Department of State Archives, September 21, 2005, https://2001-2009.state.gov/s/d/former/zoellick/rem/53682.htm; “Exclusive Obama Interview: China as a Free Rider,” The New York Times, August 8, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg8ntdSbmCk; Ryan Hass, “The Trajectory of Chinese Foreign Policy: From Reactive Assertiveness to Opportunistic Activism,” The Asan Forum, November 4, 2017, https://asanforum.shoplic.site/the-trajectory-of-chinese-foreign-policy-from-reactive-assertiveness-to-opportunistic-activism/.

22. For skeptics of the view that China had turned more assertive, see Michael Swaine, “Perceptions of an Assertive China,” China Leadership Monitor, No. 32, (May 2010); Alastair Iain Johnston, “How New and Assertive Is China’s New Assertiveness?” International Security, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Spring 2013), pp. 7-48; for arguments that China has indeed grown more assertive, see Andrew Scobell and Scott W. Harold, “An ‘Assertive’ China?  Insights from Interviews,” Asian Security, July 2013, pp. 111-31; Aaron Friedberg, “The Sources of Chinese Conduct: Explaining Beijing’s Assertiveness,” The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 4 (2014), pp. 133-50; Oriana Skylar Mastro, “Why Chinese Assertiveness Is Here to Stay,” The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 4 (2014), pp. 151-70; and Yan Xuetong, “From Keeping a Low Profile to Striving for Achievement,” Chinese Journal of International Politics (2014), pp. 153–84.   

23. Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley, “Absolutely No Mercy: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detention of Muslims,” The New York Times, November 16, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/16/world/asia/china-xinjiang-documents.html; Jessica Batke, “Where Did the One Million Figure for Detentions in Xinjiang’s Camps Come From” Asia Society China File Explainer, January 8, 2019; http://www.chinafile.com/reporting-opinion/features/where-did-one-million-figure-detentions-xinjiangs-camps-come; “China: Events of 2018,” Human Rights Watch, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/china-and-tibet; “China Threatens Sweden after Gui Minhai Wins Free Speech Award,” The Guardian, November 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/18/china-threatens-sweden-after-gui-minhai-wins-free-speech-award; Chris Buckley and Catherine Porter, “China Accuses Two Canadians of Spying, Widening a Political Rift,” The New York Times, March 4, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/world/asia/china-canada-michael-kovrig-huawei.html; Rob Schmitz, “Australia and New Zealand Are Ground Zero for Chinese Influence,” NPR, October 2, 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/10/02/627249909/australia-and-new-zealand-are-ground-zero-for-chinese-influence; Russell L.C. Hsiao, “CCP Influence Operations and Taiwan’s 2020 Elections,” The Diplomat, https://magazine.thediplomat.com/#/issues/-LulURInylDibWqHgwOj/read.

24. Annual Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, 2019 (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2019), https://media.defense.gov/2019/May/02/2002127082/-1/-1/1/2019_CHINA_MILITARY_POWER_REPORT.pdf; China Military Power: Modernizing a Force to Fight and Win (Washington, DC: Defense Intelligence Agency, 2019), https://www.dia.mil/Portals/27/Documents/News/Military%20Power%20Publications/China_Military_Power_FINAL_5MB_20190103.pdf; Joel Wuthnow and Philip C. Saunders, “Chinese Military Reforms in the Era of Xi Jinping: Drivers, Challenges, Implications,” NDU INSS China Strategic Perspectives No. 10, March 2017, http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/stratperspective/china/ChinaPerspectives-10.pdf?ver=2017-03-21-152018-430.

25. Interestingly, the administration’s critics on defense tend to come from more conservative think-tanks such as The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. For a mild and implicit critique, see Thomas Callendar, “The Nation Needs a 400 Ship Navy,” The Heritage Foundation, October 2, 2018, https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/the-nation-needs-400-ship-navy; for a more full-throated criticism, see Gary J. Schmitt, “The Consequences of Trump’s Broken Promise to Rebuild the Military,” December 4, 2018, https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/the-nation-needs-400-ship-navy

26. Teddy Ng, “U.S. Steps Up Freedom of Navigation Patrols in South China Sea to Counter Beijing’s Ambitions,” South China Morning Post, February 2, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2186461/us-steps-freedom-navigation-patrols-south-china-sea-counter; Karen Leigh and Dandan Li, “Taiwan Sees Most Navy Sail-Bys Since Trump Took Office,” July 24, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-25/u-s-warship-sails-through-taiwan-strait-ahead-of-trade-talks.

27. Ben Werner, “Future South China Sea FONOPS Will Include Allies, Partners,” USNI News, February 12, 2019, https://news.usni.org/2019/02/12/41070; Lara Seligman and Robbie Gramer, “Trump Asks Tokyo to Quadruple Payments for U.S. Troops in Japan,” Foreign Policy, November 15, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/11/15/trump-asks-tokyo-quadruple-payments-us-troops-japan/.  

28. Julianne Smith, “If Trump Wants to Take on China, He Needs Allies,” The New York Times, June 12, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/12/opinion/china-europe-trump.html.

29. Kevin Baron, “Critics Blast Trump ‘Protection Racket’ Offer as ‘Pure Idiocy,” Defense One, March 8, 2019, https://www.defenseone.com/politics/2019/03/critics-blast-trump-protection-racket-offer-pure-idiocy/155424/

30. Thomas Wright, “Trump’s 19th Century Foreign Policy,” Politico, January 20, 2016, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-foreign-policy-213546.

31. Michael J. Green, “Trump and Asia: Continuity, Change, and Disruption,” The Asan Forum, April 18, 2019, https://asanforum.shoplic.site/trump-and-asia-continuity-change-and-disruption/.

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34. Richard Wike, Bruce Stokes, Jacob Poushter, Laura Silver, Janell Fetterolf, and Kat Devlin, “America’s International Image Continues to Suffer,” Pew Research Center, October 1, 2018, https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2018/10/01/americas-international-image-continues-to-suffer/.

35. Scott Snyder, South Korea at the Crossroads: Between Autonomy and Alliance in an Era of Rival Powers (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2017).

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38. Duncan DeAeth, “U.S. Secretary of State Emphasizes Importance of Supporting Taiwan among Pacific Allies,” Taiwan News, February 21, 2019, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3642725

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#Donald Trump #free and open Indo-Pacific #freedom of navigation operations #Huawei #maximum pressure #the Quad #TPP #Trump-Kim summit