NPR

Trump In Asia: A 'Rebalance' Toward Trade

The Trump administration's engagement with Asia has matched the Obama administration's. What's changed are the priorities: elevating commercial issues to equal or higher priority than security issues.
Asian leaders and President Trump pose for a photo during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Manila on Monday. Source: Manan Vatsyayana

As President Trump nears the end of his five-country and multiple-summits Asia trip — the most expansive visit to Asia in 25 years by a sitting U.S. president — one might well ask, as Monty Python does in The Meaning of Life, "What's it all about?"

The trip has provided a bewildering message of impulses, priorities, pronouncements and tweets, but one theme stands out: The Trump administration intends to push for fair and reciprocal trade and economic practices from allies and nonallies alike.

It is the only major consistency among the president's campaign rhetoric, policy pronouncements and administration actions to date. Even his lavish praise for the progress of regional countries seems designed to reinforce the message that Asia has

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