U.S.-Asia Relations under the Trump Administration

LMU’s Center for Asian Business in conjunction with the International Relations Program organized a very timely lecture on April 10 titled “U.S.-Asia Relations under the Trump Administration” featuring Terry McCarthy, president and CEO of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.

McCarthy’s talk primarily focused on emerging U.S. policy toward Asia, both economic and security. As head of the largest foreign policy forum in Southern California, McCarthy shared expert insights into the U.S.’s complex relationship with Asia and what to expect going forward.

Some of the biggest challenges facing Asia today include its enormous population growth, pollution and environmental consequences, ageing population and military strength. McCarthy’s initial perception of Trump’s relationship with Asia was “combative.”

“The future of Asia will be all about China,” said McCarthy. “Tensions are mounting and a strategy needs to be developed to contain China.”

China’s economy isn’t showing signs of slowing down. The country is making major investments in infrastructure and continues to dominate the technology and mobile landscape. China’s political risk is enormous and the country has very few allies. Japan and India are especially concerned about the growth of China and how that will impact world trade. The Communist party is losing strength in China so it remains to be seen how that plays out.

The Japanese economy, on the other hand, has flat lined. The country is very risk averse and missed out on the innovation wave. Japan barely cranks out 1 percent growth per year.

The biggest challenge facing India is its high rate of illiteracy. However, Indian minds tend to be very good mathematicians and India has the potential to make a lot of money in IT.

“The single most challenging foreign policy issue facing the Trump Administration is North Korea,” said McCarthy. “North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has done whatever he can to become the world’s most dangerous man.”

It is rumored that North Korea is developing a long-range ballistic missile that could potentially strike Los Angeles. McCarthy, however, doesn’t think North Korea will go nuclear. With the entire world keeping a close watch, North Korea would be obliterated within an hour of launching a nuclear missile. The Trump Administration’s strategy is to back China into a corner to help stop North Korea.

The U.S. currently acts as a neutral police for the world and there is a lot of anxiety should the U.S. pull back. Trump has already made a strong statement by bombing Syria and Afghanistan; he’s made it clear that the U.S. is not afraid to use force if necessary.

Prior to joining the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in 2012, McCarthy traveled the world for TV and print media, covering politics, business, military, social and environmental issues. He speaks six languages, has won four Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow award.

Click here to access the full webcast of Terry’s presentation.