What impact will the 2016 U.S. presidential election—now in the post-Labor Day homestretch—have on American policy toward Asia? The main features of the Obama administration’s policy toward Asia included the “pivot” or “rebalance” toward the region, especially in security affairs, and pursuit of the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a mega-regional trade liberalization pact. In the current campaign, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have pledged to oppose the TPP. Some analysts have questioned how substantive or effective the pivot or rebalance has been. Many observers expect Hillary Clinton to adopt a more assertive or tougher policy in security affairs than the Obama administration has. Trump has called into question the nature and durability of U.S. security partnerships with Japan and South Korea.
Many other questions of “post-Obama” security and economic policy toward Asia are in play as well. The next president will have to grapple with: continuing frictions with China over strategic issues (including the South and East China Seas) and challenges in economic relations (amid slowing growth in China and elsewhere and China-led efforts to create new regional economic institutions); an improved but still evolving security and economic relationship with India; Japan’s changing policies under Abe; the chronic challenges of North Korea; an increasingly pressured and divided ASEAN; a new government in Taiwan facing more fraught relations with Beijing; and concerns among U.S. friends and allies about the depth and reliability of the U.S.’s economic and security commitments to the region.
With a keynote address by Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy and two panels—one focusing on security issues and one on economic issues—this Foreign Policy Research Institute-Woodrow Wilson International Center symposium will address these issues.