This chapter considers the United States’ relationship with, and impact on, East Asia. The central argument I make is that it is simply not possible to understand the development of this region and the remarkable economic and strategic changes and events that have occurred there without taking account of the role played by the United States. After sketching the United States’ historical involvement in the region I consider more recent events and assess debates about its continuing role and the possible relative decline of its influence and power. I conclude by considering how a new US strategy based on the ‘Indo-Pacific’ region is likely to influence the future role of the United States in the region, however it may be defined.
Mark Beeson and Jeffrey D. Wilson
The largely unexpected election of Donald Trump has given trade relations an unaccustomed prominence in policy debates. No development highlighted this more dramatically than the rise, and then abrupt demise, of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP saga highlights the growing importance of ‘geoeconomics’ – the application of economic instruments to advance geopolitical ends – in the external policies of major powers. This chapter examines the geoeconomic logic of the TPP, locating its origins in the Obama administration’s desire to shape the form of Asian economic regionalism. However, the it was not wholly well-received either in the U.S. or the region. Asian governments launched competing trade initiatives to the TPP, and domestic opponents applied pressure that ultimately led to its abandonment by the Trump administration. The demise of the TPP may accelerate prospects for an American-to-Chinese leadership transition in Asia, by providing a space in which new Chinese regionalism initiatives can gain traction.
Mark Beeson and Shaomin Xu
This chapter explores the implications of China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the context of established patterns of global governance. We consider the impact that new institutional initiatives may have on the relative standing of the United States and China. We argue that developments such as the AIIB would be significant at any time, but they are especially so when Donald Trump is president, America’s willingness to provide international leadership is in doubt, and China seems to be offering alternative models of governance and development.