TRUMP IN ASIA

A break from the past but un­cer­tain re­sults

West Hawaii Today - - Front Page - BY JONATHAN LEMIRE AND JILL COLVIN

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clared his first Asian tour “tremen­dously suc­cess­ful” as he hopped on a plane bound for Washington. But when he lands late Tues­day he’ll ar­rive with few con­crete ac­com­plish­ments in hand.

As he jet­ted across the re­gion, to five na­tions, six cities and three sum­mits over 12 days, Trump pushed re­gional lead­ers to re­shape trade deals to Amer­ica’s lik­ing, but he won no firm com­mit­ments from his hosts. He opened the door to ne­go­ti­a­tions with North Korea, but then seemed to shut it again by de­rid­ing the dic­ta­tor Kim Jong Un as “short and fat.”

He did not try to push lead­ers to end hu­man rights abuses.

Trump has said he’ll have more to say about the trip’s achieve­ments in a “ma­jor state­ment” at the White House this week. The White House would not dis­cuss the de­tails in ad­vance.

The trip did re­veal much about Trump’s trav­el­ing style. He soaked up the pageantry and was well prac­ticed at the art of flat­tery.

For all his tough cam­paign talk on trade, Trump ap­peared re­luc­tant to take a con­fronta­tional stance. He ca­joled and flat­tered lead­ers in Tokyo and Seoul with­out elic­it­ing firm com­mit­ments for a more bal­anced eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship. At a sum­mit in Viet­nam, he vowed to hold ris­ing su­per­power China ac­count­able for un­fair busi­ness and trade prac­tices. Yet in Bei­jing, the pres­i­dent said, “I don’t blame China” for a grow­ing trade gap.

In the White House view, Trump ac­com­plished what he set out to do: Strengthen re­la­tion­ships with world lead­ers and lay the ground­work for more eq­ui­table trad­ing deals.

“I think the fruits of our la­bor are go­ing to be in­cred­i­ble, whether it’s the se­cu­rity of our na­tions, whether it’s se­cu­rity of the world or whether it’s trade,” Trump said be­fore leav­ing the Philip­pines on Tues­day bound for home.

At each stop on his trip, Trump both be­moaned the cur­rent state of U.S. trade re­la­tions in the re­gion and an­nounced new busi­ness deals, in­clud­ing more than $250 bil­lion in China. But most of those agree­ments were older, al­ready agreed-upon or only prom­ises. In Viet­nam, he scolded China for un­fair trade prac­tices and de­liv­ered a force­ful ad­vo­cacy for bi­lat­eral trade deals, only to have 11 na­tions strike a multi­na­tional agree­ment hours later.

Break­ing with pre­vi­ous pres­i­dents, Trump largely aban­doned pub­licly press­ing for­eign lead­ers on hu­man rights. He said noth­ing about re­stric­tions on civil lib­er­ties or press free­doms in China and Viet­nam and, most no­tably, did not re­buke Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte for over­see­ing a vi­o­lent drug war that in­cludes ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings.

ANDREW HARNIK/ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, cen­ter, gives a state­ment be­fore leav­ing for the air­port, an East Asia Sum­mit at the Philip­pine In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, Tues­day in Manila, Philip­pines. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son is seen at right while Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser H.R. McMaster is at left.

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