LITTLE TO SHOW IN TRUMP’S ASIA TOUR
For all the pomp, questions remain on actual progress, say analysts
UNITED States President Donald Trump’s marathon Asian trip passed off without any major incident, but for all the pomp and ceremony thrown his way, analysts say the tour ended with little to show in the way of concrete achievements.
Regional leaders vied with each other during the five-nation sweep to fete a president known for his partiality to grand gestures of honour and respect.
And it clearly worked.
“It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever received,” Trump said.
In Tokyo, a golfing date with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was followed by a gala dinner.
In Beijing, he toured the Forbidden City as part of an extravagant “state visit-plus”, which also included a performance of Peking Opera.
In Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in gave a presidential toast in honour of a man who “is already making America great again”.
From Tokyo to here, via Seoul, Beijing, Danang and Hanoi, the 71-year-old president hammered out two priorities: increasing pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme and pushing for better access to Asian markets for US companies.
But questions remain as to what progress he actually made on either issue.
“If you compare the before and after of Trump’s Asia tour, nothing has really changed (on the issue of North Korea),” Go Myong-hyun, an analyst at the Asean Institute for Policy Studies, a Seoul-based think tank, said.
“Trump pushed Chinese President Xi Jinping to exert more pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, but Beijing, is sticking to its stance of limited sanctions.”
Some experts note, however, that the meeting between the presidents powers could bear fruit in the medium term.
On the issue of trade, it was also unclear whether Trump, who has accused his Democrat and Republican predecessors of having failed for decades on international deals, bagged any major wins.
Beijing said it would ease limits on foreign ownership in the financial sector, but obstacles remain.
Trump announced US$250 billion (RM1 trillion) worth of contracts with China, but many were non-binding memorandums of understanding which will take years to bear fruit, if they ever do.
“These contracts are just a painkiller, momentary relief for China-US trade disputes,” saidCheng Xiaohe, associate professor of International Relations at Renmin University in Beijing. AFP