Nov 17, 2017

Trump's Jekyll and Hyde approach to Asia

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

President Trump's trip to Asia displayed a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde approach to security and economics in the region. Militarily, he is reassuring allies to stand against China's growing military might, but economically Trump is turning his back on broad trade pacts with those same allies.

Our thought bubble: Asian nations worried about China's rise want both strong military and economic ties with the U.S.

The security aspect of the U.S. strategy towards Asia was reinforced with the visits to Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines.

  • In support of the recently articulated "Indo-Pacific" strategy Trump is working to revive the "Quadrilateral Security Dialogue", aka the "Quad", a grouping of the U.S., India, Japan and Australia first formed in 2007 but quickly shelved, in deference to Beijing's concerns. Beijing is concerned again.

The U.S. insistence on renegotiated bilateral trade deals was not well received.

  • Rather than helplessly pining for the U.S. while rushing into the embrace of China and Xi Jinping key Asian states are working amongst themselves to increase inter-Asian connectivity and balance against China.
  • Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam agreed to revive a variant of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), without the US. The new grouping is called the TPP-11 and they hope that the US will eventually want to join.

Bottom line: The Asian nations, with the exception of China's near-vassal states Cambodia and Laos, want U.S. leadership and are very concerned about the "America First" agenda and the withdrawal from many multilateral efforts. What they're telling U.S. diplomats is that "we will wait and hope you return to your senses." China has not won yet.

You can sign up for Bill Bishop's weekly Axios China newsletter here.

Go deeper

Joe Biden places second in Nevada caucuses, ahead of Pete Buttigieg

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden a Nevada Caucus watch party in Las Vegas on Saturday. Photo: Ronda Churchill/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden secured second place in the Nevada Democratic caucuses with former Southbend Mayor Pete Buttigieg third, according to NBC News projections Sunday.

Why it matters: It's a boost for Biden, who's widely tipped to be endorsed by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Wednesday, ahead of this week's South Carolina primary.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sanders reveals free childcare plan for preschoolers

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders announced on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday a new plan to guarantee free child care and pre-kindergarten to all American children from infancy to age four.

Details: In the wide-ranging interview, Sanders told Anderson Cooper he planned to pay for universal childcare with a wealth tax. "It's taxes on billionaires," he said.

Exclusive: Trump's "Deep State" hit list

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Pool, Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.