While President Trump appoints new officials to his administration and reviews policy frameworks, Asia-Pacific leaders are moving ahead. Since taking office, Trump has grappled with consequential developments in the region, ranging from North Korea’s ballistic missile tests to the removal of South Korea’s Park Geun-hye. In part two of this two-part podcast, Paul Haenle discussed the future of U.S. strategy in the Asia-Pacific under the Trump administration with Dr. Michael Green, senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University professor, and former senior director for Asia on the White House National Security Council.
Green compared the current situation in North Korea to a “speeding train heading towards a giant mountain,” explaining that the metaphorical mountain was the United States and its allies in the region. He expressed confidence that despite increased economic pressure from China, the United States and South Korea would not back down from the THAAD deployment, arguing that the highest priority for any leader is to protect its citizens. Green also explained that under Kim Jung-un, it is unlikely North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons program. Instead, the United States should pursue a policy that leads to an immediate lowering of the North Korean threat. Green suggested that the United States and China take joint action to identify and prevent shipments of weapons-related materials into North Korea to build cooperation. During Trump and Xi’s first meeting, Green recommended Xi avoid demanding anything from Trump and instead review the benefits of U.S.-China relations to educate his counterpart. Green agreed with Haenle that if Xi focuses on explaining his own reform plans and domestic aspirations, the leaders are more likely to find common cause.
Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Michael Green is a senior vice president for Asia and Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and chair in modern and contemporary Japanese politics and foreign policy at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He previously served as the senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council under former president George W. Bush.