Dear Reader


The bull has en­tered the China shop. While us Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with what he sees as un­fair trade agree­ments and prac­tices was a sta­ple of his cam­paign for of­fice, few ex­pected him to pur­sue those con­cerns with the vigor and vitriol now on dis­play. after the re­cent G-7 sum­mit, where Trump found him­self roundly iso­lated by us al­lies for his tough stance on steel and alu­minum tar­iffs, as well as other trade is­sues, the very fu­ture of the rules-based trade order that the us was in­stru­men­tal in cre­at­ing after the sec­ond World War seems in ques­tion.

In our cover pack­age, we ex­am­ine how North­east asia’s ma­jor na­tions are grap­pling with chal­lenges posed by Trump’s un­ortho­dox ap­proach to trade. China fig­ures promi­nently, as it runs by far the largest trade sur­plus with the us. as pre­dicted in these pages last year, Trump is prov­ing a “trans­ac­tional pres­i­dent,” seek­ing with bei­jing to cob­ble to­gether a pack­age of con­ces­sions not aimed at ad­her­ing to any broad, mul­ti­lat­eral frame­work, but rather to ex­tract ben­e­fits that will has­ten a nar­row­ing of the us trade deficit. bei­jing is thus faced with un­wel­come pres­sure to ad­dress us con­cerns with­out ap­pear­ing to sur­ren­der China’s grow­ing in­flu­ence on the de­bate about global rules and norms, in­clud­ing those in­volv­ing trade.

Ja­pan is also grap­pling with Trump’s new bi­lat­eral ap­proach, fend­ing off calls to ne­go­ti­ate a us­japan free-trade agree­ment and us threats of steep tar­iffs on Ja­panese auto im­ports. For many in Tokyo, the strug­gle with Trump’s de­mands harks back to the 1980s and early 1990s, when the us sought vol­un­tary im­port re­straints that, in ef­fect, vi­o­lated the pre­vail­ing global trade rules. but Tokyo is also push­ing ahead in its new leadership role in the re­vamped Trans-pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TTP) trade ac­cord, from which Trump with­drew the us in his first week in of­fice, and hop­ing even­tu­ally to per­suade the us to re­join.

south Korea, for its part, has al­ready suc­ceeded in cut­ting a deal with the us after Wash­ing­ton de­manded a rene­go­ti­a­tion of the Korea-us Free Trade agree­ment (KORUS). seoul’s ex­am­ple could prove in­struc­tive in how to han­dle Trump’s trans­ac­tional and bi­lat­eral ap­proach to trade.

else­where in this is­sue, our Fea­tures sec­tion looks at the his­toric North Korea-south Korea sum­mit in april and Trump-kim sum­mit in sin­ga­pore in June; why the ar­gu­ment that China presents a new, al­ter­na­tive au­thor­i­tar­ian model for the world is a myth; what Malaysia needs to do, now that it has ousted the party that ruled it for 60 years; the chal­lenges of reg­u­lat­ing cryp­tocur­ren­cies in asia; the im­por­tance of aus­tralia-south Korea re­la­tions; and what fiction-writ­ing in North Korea re­veals about Kim Jong un and his rule.

Our In Fo­cus sec­tion takes an in-depth look at the re­newed role for europe in asian se­cu­rity in the face of the grow­ing us-china ri­valry for in­flu­ence in the re­gion. europe’s rel­e­vance to se­cu­rity is­sues in asia re­ceded after the end of the Cold War, but new op­por­tu­ni­ties for euro­pean en­gage­ment are now emerg­ing.

In ad­di­tion, we feature an ex­panded book re­view sec­tion in this is­sue, fo­cus­ing as al­ways on some of the most en­gag­ing works on asia.

sin­cerely yours,

Chung-in Moon Edi­tor-in-chief

David Plott Man­ag­ing Edi­tor

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