Handbook on the United States in Asia
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Handbook on the United States in Asia

Managing Hegemonic Decline, Retaining Influence in the Trump Era

Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan

The centre of gravity in today’s global economy arguably now resides in Asia. As a result of this, the maintenance of geopolitical and economic security in Asia has become pivotal to global stability. This indispensable Handbook examines the crucial and multifaceted role of the United States as a force in the region that has been, and continues to be, necessary for the continuation of Asian prosperity.
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Chapter 5: The Trump administration’s Asia-Pacific strategy—continuity or a dramatic break with the past?

Paul J. Smith


The ascendancy of Donald J. Trump to the office of President of the United States has led many to speculate about the future of U.S. strategy toward the Asia-Pacific. As a candidate, Mr. Trump made a number of statements suggesting a dramatic break with past policies. However, upon assuming office and notwithstanding his immediate rejection of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Trump appeared to favor a more traditional and internationalist approach to foreign policy, particularly with his appointments of James Mattis and Rex Tillerson to head the Defense and State Departments respectively. However, it would be a mistake to assume that President Trump’s attitude toward international relations will automatically align with that of previous administrations. As an unconventional political leader, Trump will likely bring both continuities and discontinuities in his approach to the Asia-Pacific and to the alliance relationships that the U.S. has maintained for more than six decades.

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